European Challenge Cup: Biarritz Olympique 13-17 Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle centre George Wacokecoke
George Wacokecoke was awarded the match-winning try after lengthy deliberations between the referee and television match official
Biarritz (3) 13
Try: Jalagonia Con: Bosch Pens: Herron 2
Newcastle (7) 17
Tries: Stuart, Wacokecoke Cons: Connon 2 Pen: Connon

Newcastle left it late to claim a win against Biarritz courtesy of centre George Wacokecoke’s last-gasp try.

Falcons led for most of a scrappy European Challenge Cup Pool A match until Brett Herron’s penalty edged the hosts ahead with seven minutes left.

But centre Wacokecoke went over in the corner in added time to restore their lead with the final play of the match.

Earlier Sam Stuart had gone over in the first half, while Tornike Jalagonia’s try on the hour drew Biarritz level.

It meant Newcastle picked up their second win of the competition following victory over Worcester last month.

Biarritz, meanwhile, were unable to build on their opening-round victory over Zebre having had their trip to Worcester cancelled on 18 December, which was subsequently recorded as a 0-0 draw.

This match will not live long in the memory after a cagey contest between two sides who struggled to maintain their discipline at the breakdown and execute in attack.

Newcastle led when scrum-half Stuart pounced on the loose ball on Biarritz’s five-metre line after Nathan Earle burst free down the left wing and kicked over the top into space.

Brett Connon converted, but a penalty from former Harlequins and Jersey fly-half Herron would prove to be the only other score of the first half.

But as the game entered the final quarter, Biarritz produced the move of the match for their try after winger Darly Domvo intercepted a Newcastle attack inside his own 22.

Support bursts from hooker Bastien Soury and replacement fly-half Gilles Bosch, Biarritz had men over in the left corner enabling Jalagonia to dot down and level the match at 10-10.

Herron was successful off the tee again after Jamie Blamire was penalised in front of his own posts for not rolling away and Biarritz led for the first time in the closing minutes.

However, Falcons kept their nerve and spread the ball wide to Wacokecoke on the right to slide over for the match-winning try as he just managed to stay in touch.

Worcester and Toulon face each other in the same pool on Saturday at Sixways, while Newcastle travel to Toulon on 22 January.

Biarritz: Jonas; Barry, Martin, Vergnaud, Domvo; Herron, Aurrekoetxea; Erdocio, Da Ros, Nutsubidze, Olmstead, Tyrell, Jalagonia, Erbani, Armitage (capt).

Replacements: Soury, Tcheisvhili, Azariashvili, O’Callaghan, Hebert, Couilloud, Bosch, Perraux.

Newcastle: Brown (capt); Radwan, Wacokecoke, Lucock, Earle; Connon, Stuart; Brocklebank, Blamire, Tampin, Peterson, Farrar, Graham, Collett, Chick.

Replacements: McGuigan, Cade, Mulipola, Montgomery, Basham, Nordli-Kelemeti, Haydon-Wood, Burrell.

Referee: Adam Jones (Wal).

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