Newcastle Falcons edge out Toulon 25-26 in Champions Cup opener

Joel Hodgson had an impressive outing for Newcastle Falcons
Joel Hodgson had an impressive outing for Newcastle Falcons

Toulon 25-26 Newcastle Falcons, Stade Felix-Mayol

Joel Hodgson kicked the decisive penalty goal in the 71st minute as Newcastle Falcons stunned Toulon with a 25-26 win in their European Champions Cup encounter at Stade Felix-Mayol on Sunday.

The game saw four yellow cards with two for each sides and was a tight one from the start but in the end the Premiership side sealed a vital win that will boost their confidence after a tough Gallagher Premiership season until now where they are at the bottom position.

Toulon got off the mark in less than a minute when lock Romain Taofifenua charged down Micky Young's attempted clearance to score the opening try and Francois Trinh-Duc kicked a conversion and a penalty to get 10 points on the board.

The visitors got off the mark in the ninth minute with a penalty goal from Hodgson and by the 20th minute hooker Kyle Cooper burrowed over the line and the Falcons fly-half improved it with a conversion and a penalty to get them into a three-point lead.

Hodgson stretched the visitor's lead to six points after prop Jean-Baptiste Gros was sin-binned in the 32nd minute but the French side cut down the gap to just one point when Raphael Lakafia crossed over in the 37th minute for an unconverted try.

The Falcons had advantage when Daniel Ikpefan was yellow-carded in the 51st minute after the fullback hauled down wing Sinoti Sinoti with a high tackle and to make things worse for the hosts, Dean Richards' men were awarded a penalty try. However, the Falcons lost the plot when Hodgson's turn for a sin-bin came for a deliberate knock-on and the momentum swung towards Toulon with Guilhem Guirado touching down in the 56th minute and a conversion and a penalty from Trinh-Duc put them into a 25-23 lead ahead of the final 15 minutes.

The infringements continued and this time Toulon paid heavy price with Julian Savea going to sin-bin in the 68th minute and three minutes later Hodgson slotted a penalty to complete a thrilling one point win for the Falcons.


European Rugby Champions Cup Points Table