Premiership strugglers Newcastle did just about enough to wrap up victory against Toulon in the opening matches of the weekend.
Jonny Wilkinson returned to Kingston Park, but spent the whole 80 minutes sat on the substitute’s bench as an unused substitute. The game was never going to be a free flowing, high scoring encounter at a cold windy Kingston Park and so it proved to be. Newcastle indeed ran out winners in a tight encounter. Two penalties in three minutes from Jimmy Gopperth proved enough for the Falcons to run out victorious by six points to three.
Newcastle’s former favourite son, Jonny Wilkinson, returned to the club where he made his name but did not make it off the bench. Another former favourite amongst the Falcons fans did though make an appearance, Carl Hayman returning with Toulon.
The game itself provided little by way of talking points. The result was never going to be settled by any moments of real class, with winds reaching 80mph hampering and truly expansive play. The result always looked set to go to the team who made the fewest mistakes, gave away the fewest penalties and whose kicker coped best with the difficult conditions. It turned out that Newcastle were able to see off their French visitors with a resilient display.
It summed up the transformation the Falcons seem to be going through at the moment. Having been written off by many a couple of weeks ago as already relegated, they seem to have found some form from nowhere. Now unbeaten in their last 6 home games and with the majority of the Premiership’s teams within a couple of wins of the Falcons this seasons relegation may not turn out to be the formality it seemed it may become.
Following a handful of tough fought battles the return trip to Touloun will be a difficult encounter, and one it seems certain the Falcons will not face up well to. However the character shown in the game and last week’s victory over Gloucester provide Newcastle supporters with a glimmer of hope for the rest of the season, more specifically, the upcoming winter months.