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Falcons tipped for a swift return to the top
MOSELEY skipper Neil Mason is in no doubt that Newcastle Falcons are heading back to the Premiership following their 53-13 win away to the Birmingham club.
The Falcons scored three tries in the last ten minutes and Mason said: "The clinical edge of a full-time, £4m team with the budget they have got is key. They train for these times when there are ten minutes left.
"They've got hours every week to focus on it. They executed well - that's why they are where they are and why they will get promoted."
The Falcons' sixth straight win kept them two points ahead of Bedford, their only serious challengers.
Newcastle continue to play young Joel Hodgson at fly half with the versatile trio of Jimmy Gopperth, Alex Tait and Tom Catterick occupying the back three spots.
A break by Hodgson led to the first try for lock Scott MacLeod and the remaining six tries came from back row men.
Richard Mayhew finished two driving mauls and also put fellow flanker Will Welch over, while No 8 Ali Hogg scored from a five-metre scrum.
Finally, replacement Mark Wilson touched down twice following line-outs. Gopperth landed six out of seven conversions and added two penalties.
Esher, relegated from the Championship, stunned Blaydon with four tries between the 49th and 64th minutes to win a thrilling National One match 38-34 at Crow Trees.
The game had been locked at 17-17, but Blaydon also scored twice in a frantic finish, adding to the two tries which resulted from their early dominance.
The first was a penalty try when Esher collapsed a maul, then from a similar situation flanker Rob Bell scored.
Andrew Baggett converted both and added a penalty for a 17-10 interval lead, but Esher put together some fine moves in their try blitz.
Blaydon's late tries came from winger Tom Jeffery and Baggett, who continued his fine kicking form by landing all four conversions.
Blaydon slipped below their hosts this week, Wharfedale, for whom Hartlepool's Aaron Myers scored two tries in a 27-27 draw at Old Albanians.
A 35-metre penalty in the fifth minute of added time consigned Tynedale to a 22-20 defeat at Cambridge, where hooker George McGuigan's 80th-minute try looked to have won the game.
Centres Tom Bramwell and Jack Harrison scored Tynedale's other tries and Harrison added a conversion and penalty with all the recognised goal-kickers injured.
Westoe suffered their sixth straight defeat in National Two North when they lost 25-19 at home to Hull, who scored three tries in quick succession in the middle of the second half.
Late tries from Peter Phelan and Ryan Beattie earned Westoe a bonus point after they had stayed on level terms until the 51st minute through a try by flanker Rob Adair.
Billingham moved into fifth place in National Three North and underlined their growing forward strength as lock Craig Tennant scored twice in a 19-11 home win against Lymm. Winger Craig Shepherd also touched down and Peter Evans added two penalties.
Following the narrow home defeat by Billingham, West Hartlepool were edged out again, losing 20-17 at Burnage, for whom Teessider Ross Winney won the match with his fourth penalty in injury time. He also landed a superb drop goal to level the scores on 80 minutes.
West took a fifth-minute lead through a Stuart Waites penalty before Burnage scored their only try. Two more penalties gave West a 9-8 half-time lead and it became 14-8 when lock Andrew Davies burst out of a ruck 40 metres out and raced over. A further exchange of penalties made it 17-11, but Winney had the last word.
Middlesbrough were well beaten up front on their visit to North One East leaders Wheatley Hills, who avenged last season's defeat with a 36-12 win.
They also exacted physical vengeance in a bad-tempered match, culminating in the home No 8 and Boro prop Craig Chapman being sent off following a brawl 15 minutes from time. Boro made a good start and when fly half Simon O'Farrell made a break full back Jack Bircham came down the middle to score.
O'Farrell converted for a 7-0 lead but by half-time it was 22-7 and the hosts added two more converted tries before Rhys Kilbride scored his first try for Boro following a break by fellow centre Rob Bellerby..
Kilbride can expect a run at centre as Paul Norris has broken a cheekbone in two places.
Darlington's woes continued as they suffered the usual late cry-offs and lost 40-7 at home to Morpeth.
Having conceded 70 points or more in each of the previous three games, it was a slight improvement and Darlington trailed only 10-0 at half-time.
But Morpeth scored three tries through the backs midway through the second half and two more in the last two minutes. The only reply came from Richard Snowball, converted by Mark Baldwin.
Stockton won 41-30 at Horden, despite being without six first-choice players. Winger Simon Crozier opened the scoring after a minute and further tries from back row men Martin Dixon and Anthony Parkinson, plus two conversions and two penalties from fly half Jeremy Good, made it 25-16 at half-time.
Flanker Matt Wootten and winger Dan Phinn added further tries with Good slotting two more penalties.
Stockton are at home this week to leaders Guisborough, who maintained their 100 per cent record with a 31-10 home win against Ponteland.