Newcastle 25 Llanelli 9: Noon strikes to finish off Llanelli

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The Independent Online

Phil Davies has rarely been a contented man in games against Newcastle. In the 10 years when he was director of rugby at Leeds, his team never beat the Falcons at Headingley. Now he is at Llanelli, where he made his name as a player, and they top the Magners League - but they still lost this Anglo-Welsh Cup match in Pool C last night.

Last week the Scarlets defeated Harlequins at Stradey Park by 26-7 but they were no match for the Falcons last night.

Stephen Jones was on the bench, Barry Davies went to full-back while Mark Jones was on the wing for Llanelli. Adam Jones was in the pack, while Ceiron Thomas partnered Dwayne Peel at scrum half. Matthew Burke missed out for Newcastle - replaced by Anthony Elliott - with Toby Flood in for Tom Dillon.

Apart from a long-range effort from Peel, who made ground before feeding Inoke Afeaki, the Falcons made all the early running, but they were unable to break down the Llanelli defence.

Tom May then dropped a goal from about 35 metres but within a minute, back came Llanelli for Thomas to plant a penalty. That made it 3-3 at quarter time.

There was something laboured about Llanelli. Mistakes were made, there were knock-ons and mishandling, though to be fair, Newcastle were hardly at their best in the first half. At Llanelli's next penalty, the full-back Barry Davies struck from 50 metres but Newcastle were quickly back on the front foot as Llanelli left an acre of space on their right for Jamie Noon to score the first of his two tries. Flood converted.

With half-time beckoning, Llanelli made a big effort down the right flank. It came to nothing but on the stroke of time Flood dropped a goal. Could they keep it up after the break? Llanelli were awarded a penalty from a kickable position but chose to set up the lineout. But the Newcastle forwards stole the ball and hacked it into the Llanelli half before kicking it out on the full.

Newcastle then camped in the Llanelli right corner, though Thomas somehow lifted the siege. Thomas kicked his second penalty to make it 13-9 but the Falcons made the game safe with a try for Noon which was converted by Flood, while a marvellous try down the left for John Rudd finished things off.

Newcastle director of rugby John Fletcher hailed his side's win. He said: "It was our best performance of the season. We had 21 Englishmen out there so we're doing our bit for English rugby."

Newcastle: Tries: Noon 2, Rudd. Conversions: Flood 2. Drop goals: May, Flood.

Llanelli Scarlets: Penalties: Thomas 2, Davies.

Newcastle: A Elliott; T May, J Noon, J Shaw, J Rudd; T Flood, L Dickson (J Grindal, 4-13); J Williams (D Williams, h-t), M Thompson (A Long, 54), M Ward, A Perry (M McCarthy, 59), J Oakes (G Parling, 69), E Gesinde (B Wilson, 60), B Woods, P Dowson (capt).

Llanelli Scarlets: B Davies (S Jones, 36, h-t-52); D James, M Watkins, R King, M Jones; C Thomas (G Evans, 71), D Peel; P John (C Dunlea, 56), M Rees (A Gravelle, 69), D Manu, I Afeaki (V Cooper, 56), A Jones, J Bater (N Thomas, 47), S Easterby (capt), A Popham.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).