Newcastle's remarkable recovery

Newcastle 27 - Gloucester 27
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The Independent Online

After a week in intensive care following their humiliation at Leicester, Newcastle were still in need of therapy when they were met on the Kingston Park steps by Gloucester. By half-time, with the visitors 22-6 ahead, another Falcons meltdown seemed the likeliest outcome but somehow they made a remarkable recovery to rescue a draw.

Quite how Gloucester frittered away a lead like that is a matter for the profligacy department at Kingsholm. Had it not been for Luke Narraway's late try they would have lost. But the three points Gloucester earned has lifted Nigel Melville's team to fourth, and they should be well satisfied with that, given that they shipped 21 unanswered points in the space of 14 minutes.

"We had a terrible first half," said Newcastle's director of rugby, Rob Andrew. "It was probably a hangover from last week. But I said to the players at half-time to stop feeling sorry for themselves. After what had gone before, this feels like a victory."

Newcastle took their first tentative steps towards rehabilitation with a penalty from Dave Walder, but it was not too long before they were in trouble. Henry Paul's first penalty attempt hit an upright, though Newcastle were soon falling off tackles at an alarming rate. Andy Gomarsall was not the only Gloucester player to take advantage, but he was the first to make it pay in full, skipping through what resembled the home defence for the softest of tries. Next to benefit was Marcel Garvey, and though the obstruction by Terry Fanolua on Mark Wilkinson went undetected, so did Newcastle's tackling. Fanolua's try came next, after Walder had notched a second penalty and Paul a drop goal and conversion.

Before Narraway's rescue act, which earned Gloucester a bonus point, Michael Stephenson, Mathew Tait and Mark Mayerhofler scored the Falcons tries, all converted by Walder, and a draw was no less than the home side deserved.

Newcastle: Tries Stephenson, Tait, Mayerhofler; Conversions Walder 3; Penalties Walder 2. Gloucester: Tries Gomarsall, Garvey, Fanolua, Narraway; Conversions Paul 2; Drop goal Paul.

Newcastle: D Walder; T May, M Tait, M Mayerhofler, M Stephenson; M Wilkinson (J Shaw, h-t), J Grindal (H Charlton, 59); J Isaacson (I Peel, h-t), A Long (M Thompson, 52), M Ward, L Gross (G Parling, 68), C Hamilton, M McCarthy (S Sititi, 59), C Harris, P Dowson (capt).

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, J Simpson-Daniel, T Fanolua, S Kiole; H Paul, A Gomarsall; N Wood, N Curnier, G Powell (T Sigley, 68), A Eustace (M Cornwell, 78), A Brown, P Buxton, L Narraway, A Balding (capt).

Referee: D Rose (Warwickshire).

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