A Gareth Owen try and four penalties from debutant Matthew Morgan wasn't enough as the Ospreys lost by a point at Kingston Park in their opening LV= Cup game.
It was an unfamiliar looking Ospreys line-up that had the better of the early exchanges, but Newcastle got the opening score of the night. With the Ospreys pressing a swift counter attack took the Falcons up the other end, Luke Fielden gathering Jimmy Gopperth’s kick to cross the line, taking it under the posts to allow his skipper the simplest of conversions.
Gopperth was then able to extend the Falcons lead three minutes later with a simple penalty, making it 10-0 with 10 minutes on the clock.
The Ospreys responded well, Morgan and Ashley Beck combining to set up Conor McInerney who was held up as he looked to drive his way over the line. As the Ospreys looked to recycle, Falcons scrum half Chris Pilgrim did well to steal the ball as it popped out of the ruck and clear the danger.
Morgan then had to be alert to snuff out the threat as Charlie Amesbury looked to chase his own kick up the left hand side.
After a lively opening the game became a little untidy with neither side really able to create much by the way of quality rugby, the next score again coming from the boot of Gopperth, his penalty on the half hour after the Ospreys were caught offside extending his team’s lead.
The Ospreys responded well, James King claiming the restart and charging forward, which allowed his pack to look to build up a head of steam. As they worked their way towards the Falcons line, Duncan Jones and Mefin Davies both took a turn to drive forward, before the hosts were penalised for offside, allowing Morgan to slot over his first points for the region, getting his team on the scoreboard after 33 minutes.
Again the Ospreys pressed, and they were rewarded with another penalty after James Fitzpatrick didn’t roll away after the tackle, allowing Morgan to slot over a penalty from a central position some 30m out.
Newcastle had the upper hand in the scrum, and with half time approaching, the Falcons looked to turn the screw up front, taking advantage of an attacking scrum five after Rhys Webb was carried over his own line in possession.
Stand in referee Tim Wigglesworth, a late change with the whistle, had to reset the scrum twice, before awarding a penalty against the Ospreys. The hosts opted to pack down again but this time the visitors held firm, and as they looked to move the ball from the base of the scrum, the Ospreys defence was up to the task, seeing out the final seconds of the first period.
HALF-TIME: NEWCASTLE FALCONS 13 OSPREYS 6
Newcastle were on the offensive after the restart, but an intuitive break from Morgan, collecting the ball on his own line and darting forward, relieved the pressure, carrying it 50 metres upfield before his progress was halted. The Ospreys lost possession, but Gopperth's clearing kick rebounded off a Newcastle player and Gareth Owen, on at fullback at the break in place of Barry Davies, was able to beat the challenge of Jeremy Manning to score in the corner. Morgan was unable to convert from the touchline, leaving the Ospreys trailing by two points.
The Falcons hit straight back, James Fitzpatrick and Luke Eves on the charge up the middle only to be held up just short. They looked to be ignoring the overlap out wide, but eventually, the ball was worked to Fielden who forced his way over from close range, Gopperth unsuccessful with the conversion attempt.
Morgan then took his tally for the night to nine with his third successful penalty after his own jinking run had turned defence into attack for the Ospreys, and then, with 10 minutes to go, he was able to reduce the deficit to just two points after the Newcastle scrum was penalised.
Matthew Jarvis was then introduced to the action in place of Morgan, and his first involvement was to take a penalty after Newcastle were penalised for not retreating after being pinged at the scrum. His long-range effort had the distance, but struck the post, leaving the Ospreys trailing with just five minutes remaining.
The Ospreys looked to find the score that would see them steal victory at the death, but despite their best efforts were unable to find a way through as Newcastle held on for the narrowest of wins.