A young Extras side succumbed to a more experienced Newcastle side eventually losing 34-8. The Tigers side needed all of Neil Briggs’ 29 years to nudge the average age of the starting XV just above 20, whilst Newcastle fielded US international Eric Fry, England tourists Scott Wilson & Andy Saull, former Tigers Rob Hawkins & Andy Tuilagi, Super League Grand Final Man of the Match Lee Smith and a smattering of experienced Premiership players such as Rory Clegg, Jamie Helleur and Tom Catterick.
Tigers’ only fundamental weakness was with dealing with the restarts. This reared its head right from the off and meant Tigers struggled to clear their half right through the game. Newcastle dominated the opening 10 minutes spending the entire time camped in Tigers 22. Brave defence ensued to keep the Falcons out, with the pack particularly to the fore.
On 15 minutes and after only 2 penalties referee Gareth Holsgrove from Peterborough produced a yellow card for Will Owen. The offence on first look appeared to be for tackling Andy Tuilagi in full flight and forcing a fumble. But the referee saw skulduggery and gave the Falcons a 3-0 lead.
Tigers struck straight back with a long range penalty from Williams after 21 minutes. This was only Tigers second incursion into the Newcastle half after a foray a minute earlier was knocked on by Bryant.
Just before the end of Owen’s sin bin period Newcastle finally profited from the man advantage. A very suspicious steal at the base of the scrum, that appeared to me to be clearly in the scrum when it was pilfered, was taken by Newcastle 9 Andy Davies.
After a battering on the line Newcastle were awarded a penalty and went quickly to Andy Tuilagi who used his considerable bulk to muscle over the line.
Tigers took the play to Newcastle for the rest of the half, creating opportunities but lacking the precision to finish them. Despite his earlier no nonsense style the referee allowed Newcastle to deliberately slap down the ball with a man clear to the line with no yellow card. Owen Williams was wide with the conversion.
Soon after a quick lineout was thrown at least 3 yards forwards Newcastle once again benefited from the Peterborough officials interesting interpretation of our sport’s rule book. Rory Clegg was nerveless with the boot to take the score out to 13-3 at half time.
Tigers replaced Neil Briggs and Tiziano Pasquali at half time with Harry Thacker and Dan Hogan taking the average age of the side to below 19 years 6 months. Thacker was his usual ball of energy and his brother Charlie, starting at 13 but switching to full back early in the second half, appears to share his ability to play bigger than his size.
The second half really sprung into life in the 53rd minute; Newcastle were attacking inside the Tigers 22 when Rob Hawkins fumbled the ball, as Tresidder cleaned up and attempted to break Hawkins swung a panicked arm at the Derbyshire teen catching him clean under the jaw. The Crumbie cried foul and the players piled in to support their young friend.
How did the referee deal with this 30 year old forward’s high tackle garrotting the teen half back? Obviously he revered the penalty for a bit of pushing and shoving and refused to even card Hawkins when a yellow was certain and a red hardly obscene.
Tigers on tilt, and with the crowd booing and sharing their witticisms on the referee’s eye sight, parentage and size of the bribe he must of took from Deano, were rolled over the line with a contested grounding given with undue haste generating more cat calls from the disgruntled Crumbie.
Owen Williams made way after 57 mins as Tresidder moved to fly half, not the Welshman’s best performance but he was leading an incredibly young side in tough circumstances.
Just to round out the fun we then had a 10 minute delay after an intrepid night watchman turned off the GNC stand’s flood lights. Given this was a reserve fixture and the Crumbie flood lights provided a perfectly illuminated surface the 10 minute delay was completely unnecessary and a classic example of the referee’s pedantry and poor handling of the fixture.
As he didn’t appear to be watching the match anyway I fail to understand how a bit of shade on the far side would have made a difference.
Injury to sub Oliver Povoas forced Welsh wing Rhys Williams into the pack as Tigers opened up to chase the game. Tigers looked good with the pace raised and hopefully this youthful team can raise the pace in the pitiful 4 remaining fixtures of the season.
Newcastle’s Dan Temm was sin binned for a innocuous midfield offence, just to prove the referee was not biased simply bizarre, and Tigers took advantage as George Prince dummied to a circling Charlie Beckett before sneaking over in the corner.
The comeback was short lived though as Newcastle’s power come through with a pick and drive try. The final nail in the coffin, and the Falcons bonus point effort, was a break away by sub winger Penny after some excellent interplay by the Tigers deep in the Falcons 22.
This was a tough lesson in the vagaries of refereeing and the power needed at the top level but Tigers youthful cubs stood up very well. Beckett and Milne in the back row are sizeable customers with good game awareness. Brugnara and Pasquali impressed again and both seem likely to push on this season for the LV Cup at least.
In the backs Tresidder interested the fringe defence and created problems, whilst Charlie Thacker reminded me of a young Dan Hipkiss, with a cutting side step and good strength on a slim frame.
Extras: Bryant (Sakoh 45mins);R.Williams, C.Thacker, Pohe, Odogwu; O.Williams (Prince 57mins), Tresidder; Brugnara (Sio 51 mins), Briggs (H.Thacker H/T), Pasquali (Hogan H/T); Maksymiw, Hubbart (Joseph 60 mins); Beckett, Milne (Povoas 53 mins (Norville 73 mins)), Owen.
Yellow Card: Owen 15 mins. Try: Prince 83 mins Pen: O.Williams 21 mins.