Kenyan international back-row Joshua Chisanga came off the bench to score a brace of tries on debut as Newcastle Falcons beat Gloucester 24-15 to storm the semi-finals of England’s second-tier rugby competition, Aviva A-League Cup.
With his first two touches, both from line-outs, Chisanga scored the tries in the match on Monday to overturn the lead as team mate Tom Penny landed a last-minute try to hand the Falcons a four-try bonus point at Kingsholm grounds, England.
That effectively denied Gloucester the losing bonus against Newcastle who battled back from 12-7 down at half-time to earn their place in the last final.
The former Homeboyz player, who joined the Falcons late February, came in for lock Harry Snowdon in the 57th minute and within three minutes, he made his presence felt with his first which was converted by Tom Catterick, taking the scores to 14-15. He went for his second try as Falcons took a 19-15 lead.
As Gloucester looked to come back, Penny went over to seal the win, denying the hosts a bonus point.
“It feels good to score on my debut. I hope for many more good moments with the Falcons,” said Chisanga, who is eying to make an impact and graduate to the Premiership side. “My appearance in A-League is a test before the main stage.”
Gloucester had taken the lead with tries from Ollie Thorley and Luke Eves, one converted, before centre Andy Tuilagi converted Tom Catterick’s try to bring Falcons to within five points at the break, at 7-12.
The hosts however extended the lead after the breather to 15-7 with a penalty from full back Lloyd Evans following a high tackle and offside from the Falcons.
“Chisanga made an impact on his club debut as he came on from the bench and scored tries with his first two touches,” said the Falcons skills coach Mark Laycock. “We had the wind at our backs for the second half, they scored a penalty to go 15-7 up but we began to dominate in the last 20 to 25 minutes.”
With Monday’s win, Falcons will now shoot to the top of the six-team league with 17 points swapping places with Gloucester who drop to second. The next game for Newcastle Falcons will be late this month.
Among the many positives to emerge for the Falcons was the return to fitness of experienced Argentinean international Gonzalo Tiesi, who came through a full game in the centres.
The Aviva A-League was launched in 2003 and runs parallel to English top-flight rugby league Aviva Premiership. It is divided into Northern and Southern conferences comprising a total of 13 sides.
It provides a platform for young and experienced players to play competitively as they work their way to respective Premiership clubs.
Other than Gloucester United and Newcastle Falcons, Northampton Wanderers, Sale Jets and Worcester Cavaliers fall in the Northern Conference.
At the end of the season the top two sides from each conference face off in the semis from where the winners will proceed to the final.