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British & Irish Cup final preview

14 May 2013

  • Newcastle face Leinster A in British & Irish Cup decider
  • Chance for first silverware since 2004
Newcastle Falcons player Carlo del Fava

Photo: RFU Archive

RFU Championship finalists Newcastle will be bidding to win their first piece of silverware since the Powergen Cup triumph of 2004 when they take on Leinster A in the final of the British & Irish Cup at Kingston Park on Friday, May 17 (KO 19:30).

The Falcons enjoyed a smooth passage through to the knockout stages, having topped Pool 4 following home and away wins over 2012 finalists Cross Keys, Connacht and Newport and only conceding 27 points in the process. Their quarter-final tie against Nottingham was equally as straightforward, the Falcons running in 11 tries against callow opposition to win 72-17.

Drawn away to Bedford in the semi-final, Newcastle appeared to be in complete control until a late Blues rally ensured a nervy finish at Goldington Road. With the Falcons 18-3 in front with six minutes to go, Bedford cranked up the pressure on Dean Richards’ men with two late tries to narrow the gap to 18-15. However, the Falcons managed to hold on to keep their dreams of a league and cup double alive.

Leinster won four of their six Pool 5 matches to progress to the knockout stages, where 2011 British & Irish Cup winners Bristol lay in wait at the Memorial Stadium. Girvan Dempsey's side outscored their English hosts four tries to two to win 30-26 and set up an all-Irish semi-final against great rivals Munster.

In the semi-final defending B&I Cup champions Munster trailed by two points as a tense, closely-fought encounter neared a conclusion. Fly half JJ Hanrahan was then handed a chance to win it for the men in red but his injury-time penalty sailed just wide of the upright and Leinster were left celebrating a 17-15 victory.

That was also the scoreline when Newcastle last played Leinster in a competitive fixture on January 8, 2002. Headingley hosted the twice-postponed Heineken Cup tie, which the Irishmen won after Jonny Wilkinson failed to convert a late try by Va'aiga Tuigamala.