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Live Reporting

Brendon Mitchell

All times stated are UK

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  1. Sam Burgess: Flanker

    Sam Burgess

    So, in the words of Mike Ford, we've all seen the future tonight.

    Sam Burgess's best position is in the back row. Who knew?

    Nonetheless, it's time to bring our coverage of Bath's 29-19 victory over Newcastle Falcons to a close. If you want to read a bit more about it, please do pop over to Phil Shepka's fine report.

    But for now, it's goodnight from us.

  2. Recap

    FT: Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath


    Bath moved up to second in the Premiership with a bonus-point win over lowly Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

    Bath took the lead through Ollie Devoto and Semesa Rokoduguni, before Sinoti Sinoti's brilliant solo try put Falcons 13-12 up.

    But the visitors, with rugby league convert Sam Burgess handed a first start at flanker, had a 19-13 advantage at half-time through Anthony Watson's score.

    Matt Banahan crossed in the second half to secure the bonus point for the Blue, Black and Whites.

  3. Post update

    FT: Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    Bath head coach Mike Ford tells BT Sport about Sam Burgess: "He did alright. I'm pleased with him. Look, it's hard, he's only been in the game for six months - but I think you've seen the future tonight."

  4. Post update

    FT: Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    Bath head coach Mike Ford tells BT Sport: "We like to execute at the line and make defenders make decisions. We want to play at a pace and a tempo that suits us. We're very pleased we got the five points.

  5. Post update

    FT: Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    England women's captain Tamara Taylor on BBC Newcastle: "I think the Newcastle backs' defence improved in the second half. But this is a Bath team in the top half against a team in the bottom half, so I think losing by 10 points isn't that bad."

  6. Post update

    FT: Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    Bath centre Ollie Devoto tells BT Sport: "We were gutted not to get the result last week - I thought the boys thoroughly deserved something out of it. All credit to them though, they've come out this week and got the job done."

  7. Post update

    FT: Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    Ollie Devoto

    Bath centre Ollie Devoto tells BT Sport: "Personally, I just enjoy playing in this team, there's a great vibe at the moment. We knew Newcastle were going to be tough on this fast surface and they gave us a good game."

  8. Full-time

    Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    But the move fizzles out and the final whistle goes. A job well done by Mike Ford's Bath.

  9. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    The clock is red, the rolling maul is on it's way towards the line...

  10. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    But my goodness, Bath turn the ball over and it really is game over now. They even have a penalty too, which George Ford kicks to the corner to see if there can be one final flourish.

  11. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    Newcastle do have the ball back in hand though, and they've worked it up to halfway. Time's running out to do too much damage - but a losing bonus point is certainly within sight.

  12. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    From Tom Catterick's restart, Bath have won another penalty. Newcastle Falcons will just feel they've massively let their visitors off the hook. Carl Fearns will be back within the next half a minute too, and now they have a line-out deep inside the home side's half.

  13. Penalty (Ford)

    Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

    And the England fly-half makes no mistake. Mike Ford will be glad for that bit of breathing space heading into the final seven minutes.

  14. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 19-26 Bath

    The set-piece is spot on too and the Blue, Black and Whites are on the attack here, despite being a man light. And Dean Richards will be tearing his hair out - now his team have conceded a penalty right in front of the posts! George Ford will fancy this...

  15. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 19-26 Bath

    George Ford's restart is superbly accurate though and immediately forces Newcastle into an error, knocking on in the aftermath. This is exactly where Bath want them.

  16. Penalty (Catterick)

    Newcastle Falcons 19-26 Bath

    And three points it is, thanks to to the boot of Tom Catterick. Newcastle are within seven points and have a man advantage for another few minutes.

  17. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 16-26 Bath

    Newcastle are giving it a right old go. They're 10 metres from the Bath line, trying to go straight down the middle.

    The visitors knock on as they try to wrestle the ball back, and then concede a penalty from the resulting scrum too. To the corner or to the posts? It looks like the home side will be happy with three points here...

  18. Sin-bin (Fearns)

    Newcastle Falcons 16-26 Bath

    Should've left Sam Burgess on? His replacement, Carl Fearns, is given his marching orders for collapsing a Newcastle Falcons rolling maul. What can the hosts do here?

    JP Doyle
  19. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Will flanker become Sam Burgess's best position?

    Andrew Priestley: Sam Burgess will not make England's World Cup squad for the RWC next Autumn. There are too many better players ahead of him.

  20. Replacement

    Newcastle Falcons 16-26 Bath

    Sam Burgess

    Newcastle hustle Bath's rolling maul out of touch, however, and will have a line-out of their own. Sam Burgess, meanwhile, has run his race. Carl Fearns is on in his place.

  21. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 16-26 Bath

    Francois Louw again so good at the breakdown, turning it over and winning Bath a penalty. George Ford kicks to touch once more and the away side want more tries.

  22. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 16-26 Bath

    Some really good stuff from Bath now, working through the phases and asking an awful lot of Newcastle's defence. They're playing with such pace, such speed, but unfortunately for them perhaps a little too quickly as a knock-on from Dominic Day hands Falcons the put-in at the scrum.

    Sam Burgess has certainly been busy at the set-piece tonight...

    Sam Burgess
  23. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 16-26 Bath

    So close to a Sam Burgess try! Bath come streaming forward, Matt Banahan in off his wing again, and he has Burgess on his left shoulder. But, just as he tries to release the cross-coder, a Newcastle hand flicks the ball away in mid-air and denies him the opportunity. Scrum down.

  24. Penalty (Clegg)

    Newcastle Falcons 16-26 Bath

    The answer is no and Rory Clegg has Newcastle back to within 10 points. Dean Richards' side just won't go away.

  25. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-26 Bath

    And Bath are caught offside right beneath the posts as they spring from the line a little too hastily, and Rory Clegg can't miss a kick from here, can he?

  26. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-26 Bath

    Here comes Sinoti Sinoti on the charge again, gaining Newcastle some good yards following the restart. Falcons are knocking on the door here, excellent response...

  27. Try (Banahan, con Ford)

    Newcastle Falcons 13-26 Bath

    Matt Banahan celebrates

    And they have their try too. It's a nice move, involving George Ford, Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph, the England centre eventually letting wing Matt Banahan loose to stroll through from around 30 metres. The conversion is good too and the away side have their bonus point.

  28. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-19 Bath

    That's a good start from Bath, however. Captain for the day Francois Louw does some terrific work at the breakdown, ripping the ball away and allowing George Ford to kick long. The away side have started on the front foot.

  29. Kick-off

    Newcastle Falcons 13-19 Bath

    Newcastle Falcons fly-half Rory Clegg gets us up and running again.

  30. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-19 Bath

    Anyway, the players are on their way back out so let's get stuck back into this match at Kingston Park. Are Bath heading back up to second in the Premiership? We're 40 minutes away from finding out...

  31. Nathan Hughes appeal upheld

    If you missed it, we have more now on that breaking story we brought to you during the first half.

    Wasps forward Nathan Hughes has successfully appealed against his three-week ban for the incident that left Northampton and Wales wing George North unconscious during the Saints' victory on 27 March.

    An independent panel has ruled that "no act of foul play took place".

  32. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Will flanker become Sam Burgess's best position?

    So Bath have the edge after a topsy-turvy first half at Kingston Park. But, while there have been some sensational tries scored, the big talking point, of course, will be whether Sam Burgess has impressed on his first-team debut at flanker.

    What do you reckon? Let us know on Twitter using #bbcrugby.

  33. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-19 Bath

    England women's captain Tamara Taylor on BBC Newcastle: "It was a great individual try that the Falcons scored through Sinoti, but that is not enough.

    "They need to be playing more as a team and attacking the Bath 22 rather than sat in their own half."

  34. Half-time

    Newcastle Falcons 13-19 Bath

  35. Try (Watson, con Ford)

    Newcastle Falcons 13-19 Bath

    Another superb try, that's what they can muster! The line-out is well worked and Ollie Devoto sees a perfectly-cut line from full-back Anthony Watson, who runs in from close range. George Ford's conversion is good too and that'll take us to half-time.

  36. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-12 Bath

    A huge, huge scrum from Bath inside their own half wins them a penalty, which George Ford kicks to the corner. What can they muster here?

  37. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-12 Bath

    If Bath thought they were in for a comfortable evening after those tries from Ollie Devoto and Semesa Rokoduguni then they were very much mistaken. Game on at Kingston Park - although not for a few more moments, as Newcastle prop Kieran Brookes is down receiving some treatment. It looks like he'll be OK.

  38. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 13-12 Bath

    England women's captain Tamara Taylor summarising on BBC Newcastle: "I'm sure Newcastle captain Adam Powell feels right about going for the corner now from the penalty.

    "Sinoti's a strong boy that's for sure. Great try."

  39. Try (Sinoti, con Clegg)

    Newcastle Falcons 13-12 Bath

    That is a wonderful, wonderful try.

    Newcastle have the ball on the edge of Bath's 22, probing and searching for a gap. They work it to the left-hand side where Sinoti Sinoti is waiting, but Bath have three defenders standing between him and their line. Don't be fooled into thinking that'll put the Samoan off, however.

    He dances around the first two challenges, skips past the third and then shows brute strength to hold off the fourth from George Ford to touch down. Fantastic finish, excellent conversion from Rory Clegg and Falcons lead.

  40. No try

    Newcastle Falcons 6-12 Bath

    Sam Burgess

    After a slightly comical delay caused by a problem with JP Doyle's earpiece, eventually he and the television match official agree that it was indeed a forward pass - by Sam Burgess, of all people.

    A bit unlucky, mind you, as he attempted a cute one out the back of the hand. Nonetheless, Newcastle clear their lines.

  41. Try review (Rokoduguni)

    Newcastle Falcons 6-12 Bath

    Now, Bath are on the attack and have Newcastle back-pedalling. The ball is worked across to Semesa Rokoduguni, who crosses easily in the corner, but referee JP Doyle isn't totally happy with something in the build-up. A forward pass in there? Let's have another look.

  42. Penalty (Clegg)

    Newcastle Falcons 6-12 Bath

    And they win a penalty at the breakdown too. Was that Sam Burgess in there offending? Either way, Rory Clegg's kick is excellent and the deficit is back down to six points.

  43. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 3-12 Bath

    It's been a frustrating period at Kingston Park, meanwhile, after a couple more reset scrums. Newcastle are on the attack now though, venturing into Bath 22 for the first time...

  44. BreakingBreaking news

    Nathan Hughes appeal upheld

    George North and Nathan Hughes

    A bit of breaking news to bring you from elsewhere in the Premiership.

    Wasps forward Nathan Hughes has successfully appealed against the red card he was issued for his clash with Northampton Saints winger George North during the last round of fixtures.

    The number eight was handed a three-week ban but that has now been overturned and he will be able to play again immediately.

    He did, of course, miss last weekend's defeat by Toulon in the Champions Cup however.

  45. Try (Rokoduguni, missed con Ford)

    Newcastle Falcons 3-12 Bath

    After a shaky first couple of minutes, Bath are now right on their game here. They work the ball up to the Falcons 10-metre line and it's a fabulous, absolute bullet of a pass from Jonathan Joseph that sets Semesa Rokoduguni clear down the right-hand side to score. Excellent pass, fine try. The conversion, however, drifts wide from a tight angle.

  46. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 3-7 Bath

    If Sam Burgess didn't feel involved enough at centre, he's certainly seeing plenty of action in the early stages at Kingston Park.

    A couple more scrums, this time in Bath's half, leads to a long kick forward from George Ford and a line-out on halfway.

  47. Try (Devoto, con Ford)

    Newcastle Falcons 3-7 Bath

    Ollie Devoto

    Goodness me, that's excellent counter-scrumming from Bath though and they have the ball. Peter Stringer wastes no time in picking out George Ford either. But who can the little fly-half find from here? Ollie Devoto, playing at centre tonight, is the recipient and he barges his way over from close range.

    George Ford's conversion is good too and Bath are ahead.

  48. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 3-0 Bath

    George Ford's restart is a good one and immediately has the visitors competing for ball. And then, having won a penalty at the breakdown, they immediately head for the corner to put Newcastle under some pressure.

    Now, can Bath get the rolling maul working? The answer is yes, but it's halted soon enough and Newcastle have themselves a scrum five metres from their own line.

  49. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Will flanker become Sam Burgess's best position?

    Owen Martin: "People saying 'Sam will smash it' at flanker have obviously never played rugby or in that position. Very demanding role but good luck."

  50. Penalty (Clegg)

    Newcastle Falcons 3-0 Bath

    And, from not the easiest of angles, Rory Clegg's strike is true and splits the posts. First blood to Falcons at Kingston Park.

  51. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 0-0 Bath

    Another knock-on follows in the aftermath, however, and it'll be Bath's put-in this time.

    At first the scrum is as steady as a rock, with both teams refusing to budge, but after a collapse and a reset Newcastle win a penalty and it'll be a first shot at goal for Rory Clegg...

  52. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons 0-0 Bath

    Here we are then, a first scrum down of the evening after Semesa Rokoduguni's knock-on - and a first look at Sam Burgess in the set-piece too.

    It's a good push by Falcons though, and they retain possession inside their own half.

  53. Kick-off

    Newcastle Falcons 0-0 Bath

    Referee JP Doyle puffs his whistle, Bath fly-half George Ford boots the ball high and deep into enemy territory and we're under way.

  54. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    Here come the teams, Bath first out in their all-white away strip followed by Newcastle, decked out in their familiar black.

  55. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Will flanker become Sam Burgess's best position?

    So we're just moments away from Sam Burgess's first start at flanker now - how do you think it's going to go?

    Keep firing your tweets our way using #bbcrugby.

  56. Team line-ups

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    Bath: Watson; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Devoto, Banahan; Ford, Stringer; Auterac, Batty, Lahiff, Garvey, Day, Burgess, Louw (capt), Houston.

    Replacements: Webber, James, Palma-Newport, Attwood, Fearns, Faosiliva, Young, Homer.

  57. Team line-ups

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley; Sinoti, Powell (capt), Socino, Harris; Clegg, Tipuna; Vickers, Lawson, Brookes, Green, Thompson, Mayhew, Wilson, York.

    Replacements: McGuigan, Fry, Orlandi, Furno, Robinson, Takulua, Catterick, Tiesi.

  58. Team news

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    Rory Clegg

    Newcastle Falcons boss Dean Richards has made four changes to his side, with Rory Clegg, Simon Hammersley, Calum Green and Chris York all coming in.

    Tom Catterick, Alex Tait, Dom Barrow and Will Welch are the unlucky quartet to miss out.

    We've already established that Sam Burgess is at flanker, but Mike Ford has made six other alterations to his Bath team that lost at Leinster.

    Semesa Rokoduguni returns on the wing, Ollie Devoto partners Jonathan Joseph in the midfield and George Ford is joined in the half-backs by Peter Stringer.

  59. Bath get Newcastle buzzing

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    Dean Richards

    This season might not have gone totally to plan for second-from-bottom Newcastle Falcons, but they are still in with an outside shot of finishing above London Irish, who are currently 10th.

    And, although on paper tonight's task looks a tough one, director of rugby Dean Richards told BBC Newcastle that the game presents "a fantastic opportunity".

    "You only have to look at their team and you get a buzz," he said. "They're a quality side, they've recruited well and they're a star-studded outfit."

    "The boys are looking forward to the game."

  60. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Will flanker become Sam Burgess's best position?

    Will Gordon: "He will smash it. He should have started at Bath at 6 or 7."

    Red Half of Manchester: "Just get him back to League already!!"

    David Bunyard: Burgess in the back row? Is he likely to make international level in this role? Who will he replace, Robshaw, Wood?

  61. Post update

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    One man who'll be lining up alongside Sam Burgess in the back row for Bath tonight is Matt Garvey, who's been telling BT Sport about his transition into the pack.

    "We've offered him help but he seems to have picked it up quickly," said Garvey. "He's played there a few times in a reserve games and picked it up real good.

    "There's a bit of pressure on him but he thrives on that; he's a top bloke and top professional."

  62. Slammin' Sam is ready

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    Mike Ford and Sam Burgess

    So now we've rattled through the rest of the weekend's action, let's get back onto the subject of Sam Burgess's move to flanker.

    Although the cross-coder has appeared only at centre in the Bath first team, boss Mike Ford announced this week that "Sam is ready" for the change of position.

    Ford has said from the start that his "gut feeling" was that Burgess would end up in the back row, and this week he told The Daily Telegraph: "Picking him there for this game suits our back row and the style of game we want to play.

    "It's what is best for Bath and for Sam. It is the right time to get him on the field for how are trying to play."

  63. Post update

    London Irish v Sale Sharks (Sunday, 15:00 BST)

    Steve Diamond

    We may have done Sale a slight disservice so far as they are another side with genuine top-six ambitions - they sit seventh, just a point off sixth-placed Wasps.

    That said, Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond reckons that even winning all their remaining games might not be enough for European Champions Cup rugby.

    "With the competitiveness of the league, we could conceivably win all four games and still finish seventh," he told BBC Sport.

    Sunday's trip to London Irish may be a tough assignment too - the Salford-based side have not won there in four years.

  64. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Kingston Park

    Bath Rugby: "A beautiful evening here at Kingston Park ahead of a 19:45 kick-off between Bath Rugby and Newcastle Falcons."

  65. Post update

    London Welsh v Wasps (Sunday, 14:00 BST)

    Dai Young

    You would think that Wasps would be relishing the chance to take on Premiership whipping-boys London Welsh, stranded at the bottom of the league with one point.

    But director of rugby Dai Young is cautious despite his side sitting pretty in a comparatively lofty sixth.

    "This Sunday is a potential banana skin for us," he told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. "We know we have everything to lose going into the game and we have to be ready for it mentally.

    "If we want to be a top-six side we have to go to these places and win, but if you don't get it right mentally it's a game that could hurt you.

    "We expect, and everyone else expects us to win. That's not being disrespectful; if you score 70-odd points at home you expect to be able to get the win away. In order to do that we have to get our processes right and finish the chances that we create."

  66. Post update

    Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints (Sunday, 14:00 BST)

    Dylan Hartley

    The young pretenders against the league leaders and reigning champions.

    Exeter Chiefs have had a season to remember, knocking on the door of the top four like never before and with a real chance of making the Premiership play-offs for the first time.

    Following Leicester's resurgence, however, they now find themselves down in fifth and in need of a few victories. Who better to welcome to Sandy Park next up then?

    Northampton Saints might just feel they have a point or two to prove themselves, mind you, following their Champions Cup humbling by Clermont last Saturday.

  67. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Newcastle Falcons v Bath (19:45 BST)

    Tom Catterick

    Newcastle Falcons: "Less than 90 mins to go @TomCatterick is out for some practice."

  68. Post update

    Saracens v Leicester Tigers (Saturday, 15:15 BST)

    Marcelo Bosch

    On paper, this really does look like one of the ties of the round.

    Saracens, whose Marcelo Bosch-inspired last-minute heroics earned them a spot in the Champions Cup semi-finals last week, are currently second in the Premiership table and eager, no doubt, to cement that position.

    Leicester, meanwhile, started the season slowly but now remarkably find themselves in fourth and with their play-off hopes very much in their own hands.

    So will those European exertions take their toll on Sarries or will Mark McCall's men have too much for the in-form Tigers?

    Either way, it's going to be tasty.

  69. Post update

    Harlequins v Gloucester (Saturday, 15:00 BST)

    Chris Robshaw

    You'd have got decent odds on Harlequins heading into their final four Premiership games with nothing much to play for but, on the face of it, that's exactly what they've been left with.

    The 2012 champions are currently down in eighth, nine points adrift of Wasps in sixth and 16 off Leicester in fourth.

    They have five England players in their side to face Gloucester this week, although full-back Mike Brown is out as he continues his "cautious" ongoing comeback from concussion.

    Gloucester aren't short of international talent themselves, with the likes of Billy Twelvetrees, Greig Laidlaw and Richard Hibbard all included for the trip to The Stoop.

  70. Post update

    Premiership top six

    Before we do that, however, it's worth reminding ourselves of where things stand in the table.

    That fight for the top four looks a tight one, doesn't it?

  71. Post update

    While you get stuck into our latest Sam Burgess debate, now seems like the perfect time to have a quick glance at the rest of this weekend's Premiership fixtures...

  72. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Will flanker become Sam Burgess's best position?

    That wasn't a rhetorical question, by the way. It may have been done to death when he first arrived, but are we now edging a little closer to finding out Sam Burgess's best position? Is his relocation to the pack inevitable or simply experimental?

    Please do let us know what you think by using #bbcrugby on Twitter.

  73. Post update

    The reason I ask, of course, is that the 26-year-old will start at flanker tonight, having so far spent the entirety of his rugby union career with Bath's first team in the centres.

    A good move for player, club and country? We'll find out in an hour or so.

    Welcome to our coverage of Bath against Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership.

  74. Post update

    Sam Burgess

    Another day, another reason to talk about Sam Burgess.

    Since Slammin' Sam's big move from rugby league to rugby union last year, just about everything you could think of, from his impact on the sport to his World Cup prospects, have been discussed by coaches, fans and pundits until the cows come home.

    However, with the cows still yet to show up, there's one particular question we seem to be no closer to answering.

    Just what is his best position?