Late call-up James Stokes among try scorers as London Irish see off Newcastle
The Exiles dominated for large spells of the entertaining clash as they recorded their second league win of the season.
The Falcons – who had only lost once in the league prior to this game – threatened an unlikely comeback from 24-8 down in the closing stages, only for the hosts to deny them even a losing bonus point with a late try.
Joel Hodgson ought to have opened the scoring for Newcastle with a penalty after 14 minutes, only to drag his effort to the left of the posts.
Instead, it was the Exiles who went ahead when Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy grounded the ball over the line off the back of a strong driving maul, following a line-out. Paddy Jackson added the conversion.
The hosts crafted a superb second try just short of the half-hour mark, as Jackson swapped passes with Billy Meakes before passing to the onrushing Tom Parton.
Parton’s ball outside was slightly behind Stokes, but the former Coventry man did well to gather and then finish in the corner, with Jackson converting in style from the touchline.
The Falcons managed to get off the mark before half-time when Hodgson’s brilliant long pass found Ben Stevenson all alone on the left to go over.
Although Hodgson could not convert, he did close the gap to 14-8 at the break with a penalty after Loader was penalised for holding on.
Tom Penny did not do Newcastle’s hopes of turning the game around any good, however, after he was sin-binned for a needless charge into his fellow full-back Parton five minutes into the second half.
Jackson slotted the resulting penalty before Irish seized control of the contest with another well-worked try.
Jackson’s cross-field kick picked out Stokes on the right and he fed the ball inside for Parton, who quickly sent Curtis Rona clear to score, with Jackson again adding the extras.
In the worsening conditions, Newcastle burst back into life in the final 10 minutes as Sam Stuart managed to force his way over before Philip Van Der Walt set up Gary Graham and suddenly the gap was down to 24-22 with five minutes remaining.
But London Irish finally made sure of the victory with two minutes left when replacement hooker Motu Matu’u was helped over by another driving maul to secure a try bonus point for his side.
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