Walder's boot saves Newcastle

Leeds 30 Newcastle 30
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The Independent Online

Never mind the quality, feel the excitement. In a match as turbulent as an electrical storm, it took a 48-metre penalty from Dave Walder in the sixth minute of stoppage time to save Newcastle, who had been outplayed by Leeds for long periods, the Yorkshire team outscoring the Falcons by three tries to two. With places in Europe still up for grabs, and Newcastle's minimum ambition to be in the shake up for a spot in the Wild Card play-offs, the two points were more than welcome.

For the first 10 minutes the Newcastle defence had as many holes in it as a Henry Moore sculpture. Andre Snyman found the largest to run in Leeds' first try as the Newcastle cover stood watching. They were guilty of the same misdemeanor before the half was out. This time it was Tom Palmer, with a brief show of the ball, who cantered in for a splendid individual try to give Leeds the lead for the second time in the match. Gordon Ross, who had replaced the injured Phil Christophers after five minutes, converted both scores and added a penalty.

Whatever misgivings there may have been about the Newcastle defence, their attack was always menacing, but it was Walder who kept Newcastle in the hunt with four penalties and a neat dropped goal, as the lead changed hands twice before the break, which was reached with Leeds just in front at 17-15.

With the Leeds rolling maul working to good effect and their lineout in good shape, it seemed as if Leeds would stamp their authority on proceedings. They did, but not until Tom May had scored Newcastle's first try, and then there was more than a hint of a forward pass in the build up to Tristan Davies' try. With Ross' conversion that made it 24-20. But the Falcons hit back with a try by Michael Stephenson as the lead changed hands for the fifth time.

From there the drama intensified as Ross kicked his second penalty to tie the scores at 27-27. Then, in stoppage time Newcastle infringed at the lineout and Ross struck again for what looked to be winning score. To keep the excitement going to the last, it was left to Walder.

Leeds: Tries Snyman, Palmer, Davies; Conversions Ross 3; Penalties Ross. Newcastle: Tries May, Stephenson; Conversion Walder; Penalties Walder 5; Drop goal Walder

Leeds: M Cardey; D Rees, T Davies, A Snyman, P Christophers (G Ross, 5); D Hodge, A Dickens; M Cusack (G Kerr, 62), R Rawlinson, G Powell, P Murphy (S Hooper, 77), T Palmer (capt), M Salter, J Ponton (S Morgan, 77), C Rigney.

Newcastle: J Shaw (D Lilley, 66); T May, J Noon, M Mayerhofler, M Stephenson; D Walder, J Grindal (H Charlton, 57); I Peel (M Hurter, 32), N Makin (M Thompson, 51), M Ward (I Peel, 57), A Buist (G Parling, 51), C Hamilton, J Dunbar (B Woods, 81), W Britz (B Woods, 57-66), H Vyvyan (capt)

Referee: D Rose (Birmingham)