Aviva Premiership Newcastle (24) 29Tries: JP Socino, Goneva 2, Welch Cons: Takulua 3 Pens: TakuluaLondon Irish (3) 17Tries: Gilsenan, Fowlie Cons: Bell 2 Pens: Bell
Newcastle beat London Irish for their fourth win in five Premiership matches to move to the top of the table.
The Exiles scored an early penalty before 24 unanswered points gave the Falcons a 24-3 lead at the break.
Vereniki Goneva’s brace and Juan Pablo Socino’s try were scored in a potent eight minutes in the second quarter.
Will Welch secured the bonus point for the hosts on 60 minutes before London Irish hit back with tries courtesy of Conor Gilsenan and Tom Fowlie.
The victory means that Dean Richards’ side move – albeit potentially temporarily – to the top of the Premiership table but the Falcons’ next opponents Exeter could leapfrog them on Saturday.
Their current run of matches marks Newcastle’s best start to a domestic campaign in 20 years, while London Irish’s loss is their fourth defeat in a row and their Premiership road does not get any easier as they face Leicester Tigers next.
Nick Kennedy’s side remain four points above bottom-of-the-table Worcester and could be without one of their key signings Napolioni Nalaga for the game after he left the field at Kingston Park with a shoulder injury.
The Exiles opened the scoring with a penalty, however once Takulua levelled the scores it was one-way traffic from Newcastle for the rest of the first 40.
The first of Goneva’s two tries was the standout and highlighted the Falcons’ high tempo, offloading game in all of its glory.
The Fijian combined with Nili Latu and Takulua down the left wing and the trio’s speed of passing and footwork left the visitors totally at sea in defence.
The hosts’ captain secured the bonus point from close range on 60 minutes before the final quarter belonged to the Exiles.
Lewington, who was relentless in his work all night, was denied twice by two outstanding tap tackles from Goneva, however the 26-year-old’s endeavour did set up Gilsenan for a run-in.
Fowlie added the Exiles’ second, this time from close range, and that brought it back to 29-17 with 10 minutes to play.
The visitors pressed hard until the final moments but in the end the damage had been done as Newcastle headed for the top.
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:
“If we’re there at the end of the season it will be a Leicester City scenario, because we haven’t quite got the strength in depth that a lot of these other boys have. But, having said that, we’re there and let’s see how we get on.
“We just take each game as it comes and enter each game with a view to winning it. We’re not that type of side that will look at the season and say ‘we want to finish as European champions or Premiership championships’, but what we do look at is each game and how we try and win it.
“Next week is a difficult game for us. It’s not a place we’ve had much success at. We’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. We’ll go down there and just see what happens. The boys are on a bit of a high but at the same time they’re pretty level-headed. They’ll not get ahead of themselves.”
London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy:
“We know we have to get better.
“The results are there for everyone to see.
“We’re not quite good enough yet. We’re not up to standard and we need to improve.”
Newcastle Falcons: Tait; DTH van der Merwe, Harris, JP Socino, Goneva; Willis, Takulua; Vickers, S Socino, Welsh, Green, Witty, Wilson, Welch (capt), Latu.
Replacements: Lawson, Mavinga, Davison, Robinson, Hogg, Stuart, Hodgson, Matavesi.
London Irish; Bell; Lewington, Tikoirotuma, Williams, Nalaga; Marshall, Steele; Franks, Paice (capt), Du Plessis, F van der Merwe, De Chaves, McNally, Cowan, Treviranus
Replacements: Fainga’a, Elrington, Hoskins, Paulo, Gilsenan, Meehan, Tonks, Fowlie.