Bristol 27-39 Newcastle: Falcons miss out on Champions Cup play-off spot
Last Updated: 06/05/17 7:09pm
A late try at Northampton denied Newcastle a potential Champions Cup play-off spot but the Falcons finished their campaign in style with a thumping 39-27 win over Bristol.
The result sees Newcastle finish eighth, with Saints' win over Harlequins pushing them just ahead into seventh.
Vereniki Goneva scored two of the Falcons' five tries in a comfortable win over Championship-bound Bristol.
Bristol signed off with a bonus point of their own, scoring two late tries and four in all, but they were outplayed by an impressive and clinical Falcons team.
The visitors made a flying start with some quick feet from Chris Harris creating a gap and Mark Wilson then showing the pace to streak over from the 22. Sonatane Takulua converted to make it 7-0 after four minutes.
Falcons extended their lead, Takulua knocking over a penalty following a powerful scrum to make it 10-0.
Newcastle meant business and extended their lead when Goneva picked the ball up from a ruck and raced over unopposed.
Bristol were not helping themselves, one fine break from Billy Searle ending in a penalty as Alby Mathewson was penalised for crossing.
He protested the decision and was marched back 10 further yards, allowing Takulua to slot a second penalty of the afternoon and extend the lead to 18-0.
Gavin Henson got Bristol on the board on the stroke of half-time, knocking over a penalty with the final kick of the period.
But Newcastle extended their advantage early in the second half, Juan Pablo Socino and Marcus Watson combining on a scissors to put the latter clean through and he then produced a delightful sidestep to get over the line. Takulua's conversion made it 25-3.
However, Bristol were much improved in the second half and replacement Jamal Ford-Robinson got over soon after for their first try of the afternoon. With Henson off, Jason Woodward converted to cut the deficit to 15.
But just as it looked like they might get back into it, putting Falcons under real pressure, Goneva picked off a pass and raced the length of the pitch to wrap up the bonus point.
Bristol came straight back, with a try from another prop as Jack O'Connell was on hand following a half-break from Tusi Pisi.
Goneva pounced on another loose ball late on with what looked set to be a hat-trick score, but after racing over the line he gave the ball to Harris for the try.
Bristol had the final say, however, with late tries from Jack Tovey and then the departing Mitch Eadie to finish with a flourish, albeit in a losing cause.