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PREVIEW: Falcons aim to avoid big freeze in Sochi

Wednesday 13th January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Newcastle Falcons head to the Olympic city of Sochi looking to take top spot on the Pool One podium. - 13/01/2016 14:07

Newcastle Falcons head to the Olympic city of Sochi looking to take top spot on the Pool One podium. - 13/01/2016 14:07

Newcastle Falcons head to the Olympic city of Sochi looking to take top spot on the Pool One podium.

Falcons blew the group wide open with their victory in the previous round against leaders Connacht.

And with the Irish province travelling to Brive, Dean Richards’ side have the chance to put themselves within one game of the quarter-finals.

Hooker George McGuigan said: “The win at home against Connacht was really good for the squad as a whole and saw everyone come into training the following week just buzzing.

“We’re travelling to Russia expecting Enisei to come out and be a big physical side. We know they are a good side and we’re taking them very seriously.

“With Brive we had a lot of opportunities away from home and if we look back on it, we probably could have gotten the result if we had been a bit more accurate. We played quite well as a team, it was always going to be a hard place to go, as they’re flying in the Top 14.

“The Challenge Cup gives a chance to players to prove themselves. We’re doing quite well in it and it’s good to build momentum.”

Falcons ran in seven tries in a 55-7 win over Enisei-STM at Kingston Park but McGuigan and the rest of the Newcastle pack will face a stiff forward contest in Russia. Prop Andrei Polivalov scored twice in the opening game in Krasnoyarsk with an early show of strength from the Russian champions.

And they pulled off the shock of the European Rugby Challenge Cup this season when they downed former European champions Brive last time out at Yug Stadium. Hooker Nazir Gasanov crashed over and fly-half Iuri Kushnarev kicked five points in the historic 10-7 win.

Director of rugby Alexander Pervukhin said: “It was a dream to have these teams associated with Enisei. Now we want to establish ourselves as a European club.”

Match Facts

  • Enisei-STM are on the hunt for consecutive wins on home soil in the Challenge Cup after beating Brive 10-7 in their last home match.
  • Only once in 48 matches has a team from outside the Six Nations beaten an English side in the Challenge Cup; Dinamo-Bucuresti beat Bristol Rugby 19-18 in 1996 (the first ever such encounter).
  • Newcastle have won only three of their last eight matches in the Challenge Cup and, after winning their last match, will be looking for successive victories for the first time since December 2014.
  • Marcus Watson has beaten more defenders (21) than any other player in the Challenge Cup this season.

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REPORT: The Russians have arrived!

Saturday 16th January 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Deuxième victoire en trois rencontres à domicile pour le club russe

Deuxième victoire en trois rencontres à domicile pour le club russe

Russian qualifiers Enisei-STM have done it again, this time turning over the Aviva Premiership side Newcastle Falcons at the Yug Stadium to avenge their 55-7 defeat in the north-east in round two.

Enisei added the Falcons’ scalp to that of Brive, who fell 10-7 in Sochi in round three, as they more than justified their place in the Challenge Cup for the first time this season.

Georgian international centre David Kacharava, who played in all five of his nation’s games at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, scored a try in each half to show off his qualities and the home side were given a flying start when wing Denis Simplikevich skipped away to notch a sixth minute try.

Just as Brive and pool leaders Connacht had found on their trips to Russia, the Falcons ran into a rugged and determined Enisei pack that was backed up by some tough tackling backs. It took the Falcons 20 minutes to open their account and the try that finally came from lock Calum Green, converted by Tom Penny, was all they could muster on a difficult day at the office.

But no sooner that the Falcons got themselves back into the contest than Kacharava, who has scored 17 tries in 87 tests for Georgia, and the home side were able to go into the break with a 14-7 lead after Iurii Kushnarev had added a second conversion.

Enisei then got off to a flying start in the second half with Kacharava’s second try three minutes after the re-start, again improved by Kushnarev, and six minutes later they were playing against 14 men after former Saracens and England lock Mouritz Botha was sent to the sin-bin only a minute after coming onto the field.

The Russians ensured they made the most of their numerical advantage and Kushnarev kicked a 54th minute penalty to extend the home lead to 17 points. That’s how it stayed, despite the Falcons emptying their bench in search of some inspiration.

The Falcons remain on 11 points and have to hope that Connacht don’t beat Brive in France. If they do they will win the Pool.

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