Falcons 8 Northampton 44

Saturday 08 January 2022 Written by: Adam

The Falcons trailed 20-3 at half-time and conceded further points after the break, with plenty of room for improvement as they move into the European fortnight.

The hosts had begun the game strongly and had the chance to draw first blood with a fourth-minute penalty on the Northampton 22, turning down the three-point opportunity and kicking to the corner.

A knock-on at the ensuing line-out saw the Saints clearing the danger, and there was a further early blow when centre Matias Orlando departed through injury just two minutes later.

Nonetheless, it was the Falcons who took the lead 13 minutes into proceedings when Joel Hodgson sent over a penalty from 25 metres out in front, Northampton having been penalised for offside.

The visitors responded on 24 minutes somewhat against the run of play when Tom Collins chased a hack-ahead down the left-hand side to score the game’s opening try, Dan Biggar slotting the conversion.

The Wales and Lions fly-half added another three points with a simple penalty from in front just before the half-hour as Newcastle strayed offside, both sides losing a man for ten minutes when Philip van der Walt and Teimana Harrison were sin-binned for a scuffle after the whistle had blown.

The visitors made best use of the added space, Courtnall Skosan racing 40 metres down the right to score Northampton’s second try after a neat step and pass from Sam Matavesi.

Biggar again converted to extend his side’s lead to 14, and the Welshman added his second penalty five minutes before the interval to secure a 20-3 half-time lead.

Newcastle survived an early scare at the start of the second half when Northampton kicked a penalty to the corner without return – Sean Robinson disrupting their maul and helping to win a crucial turnover.

A Dan Biggar drop-goal got the second-half underway ten minutes after the resumption, the Falcons responding well and finding their first try on 55 minutes.

That was when they kicked a penalty to the right corner following a midfield high tackle, George McGuigan scoring from the resulting driving maul.

Northampton put the result beyond doubt, however, just after the hour mark, Sam Matavesi scoring from a driving maul and George Furbank scoring from a chip ahead, both converted by Biggar.

The home side showed flashes of late energy with Carl Fearns, Mike Brown and Nathan Earle among the runners making yards, but it was Northampton who had the last say when Tom James rounded off a 70-metre counter-attack.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Mike Brown, 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 Matias Orlando (George Wacokecoke, 6), 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Joel Hodgson (Brett Connon, 55), 9 Louis Schreuder (Sam Stuart, 30); 1 Kyle Cooper (Adam Brocklebank, 50), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 61), 3 Trevor Davison (Mark Tampin, 50), 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Philip van der Walt, 7 Will Welch (captain, Gary Graham, 61), 8 Callum Chick (Carl Fearns, 50).

**Scorers –** Tries: George McGuigan. Penalties: Joel Hodgson.

**Northampton Saints:** 15 George Furbank, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Fraser Dingwall (Tom Litchfield, 40), 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Dan Biggar (Tommy Freeman, 63), 9 Alex Mitchell; 1 Alex Waller (Emmanuel Iyogun, 61), 2 Sam Matavesi (James Fish, 65), 3 Paul Hill (Ehren Painter, 67), 4 David Ribbans, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa (Alex Coles, 65), 6 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 8 Teimana Harrison (Karl Wilkins, 63).

**Scorers –** Tries: Tom Collins, Courtnall Skosan, Sam Matavesi, George Furbank, Tom James. Conversions: Dan Biggar 4, George Furbank. Penalties: Dan Biggar 2. Drop-goals: Dan Biggar.

**Referee:** Matthew Carley. **Attendance:** 5,213.