Match Report


Newcastle Falcons - 0

Sunday 20th Apr 2014

The Falcons’ gutsy display was a monumental turnaround from their showing at London Irish last weekend, with Dean Richards’ men now opening up an eight point advantage over Worcester Warriors at the foot of the table. The Warriors now require two wins from their last two matches against Saracens (away) and Gloucester Rugby (home) as well as relying results elsewhere to avoid relegation to the RFU Championship.

You might have forgiven Newcastle for thinking they should have clinched the victory such was the hosts’ determination and cutting edge in attack throughout the 80 minutes.

However, the telling moment came nine minutes from time when Ben Ransom latched onto a loose pass from Sinoti Sinoti to sprint half-the-length of the field to touchdown. It was a sucker-punch for the Falcons and looked to have denied them a deserved losing bonus-point, but Warren Fury’s close-range try in the dying embers of the contest salvaged a precious point.

The game exploded into life as early as the third minute when Samoan import Sinoti crashed over in the corner for the Falcons. Adam Powell, who was locking horns with his former club, unleashed Alex Tait with a neat inside pass, before the ball was switched to Mark Wilson with Sinoti on his outside shoulder for the score. Fending off three would-be tacklers on his way to the line, Sinoti is arguably the capture of the season for the northeasterners and worth every penny of his new contract.

Making his first Premiership start of the campaign, the lively Joel Hodgson failed to convert from the touchline but Newcastle held the upper hand at 5-0. Saracens were immediately down to 14-men when winger Jack Wilson was yellow-carded for tackling Tait in the air, but this seemed to galvanise the Londoners and on 13 minutes Tim Streather scooted over following a sweeping attacking move involving the impressive Alex Goode. Charlie Hodgson made no mistake with the touchline conversion to give Sarries a 7-5 lead, before the former Sale man extended the margin to 10-5 with the boot after Newcastle were penalised for pulling down the maul.

With Charlie Hodgson’s impeccable goal-kicking on show, his namesake wearing the 10 jersey for Newcastle was in fine fettle with the boot too. Joel Hodgson landed a penalty from just inside Saracens’ half to narrow the deficit to 10-8 going into the interval. And it wasn’t just his kicking game that was pretty on the eye, his creativity with ball in hand was also coming to the fore.

10-8 down at the break, a solid kick-return would have most certainly been on the planning sheet at the restart. However, a mix-up under the high ball handed the initiative to Saracens as they snaffled possession back before being awarded a penalty in front of goal which Charlie Hodgson duly obliged with to extend his side’s lead to 13-8.

Despite the early set-back Newcastle continued their endeavour in attack, and on 52 minutes Joel Hodgson went close to breaching Sarries’ defence. Man-of-the-match Richard Mayhew underlined his experience off the ball, creating a gap for Joel Hodgson to slice through, but his chip through was touched in goal by Goode. Newcastle were beginning to enjoy a period of sustained pressure, and whilst there was no try, Joel Hodgson ensured they had points to show for their efforts, slotting home a penalty on 57 minutes. Trailing 13-11, Sinoti soon had the crowd on their feet when he took a pass from George McGuigan on the overlap to dash clear on the nearside only to be hauled down by a head-high tackle. It could have easily been a card for the Saracens man, but referee Andrew Small had other ideas.

Newcastle’s scrum was generally solid throughout the contest, but in the last quarter it began to dwindle with Mr Small awarding Saracens a penalty in front of goal which Charlie Hodgson nailed.

And on 71 minutes the match looked like it was drifting away from the Falcons as Ransom snapped up Sinoti’s weak pass on half way to romp home for a converted try.

But in trying circumstances the Falcons had one last throw of the dice in the shape of Warren Fury who sniped his way over the whitewash. Tait’s bullocking run got the Falcons within inches of the line with Fury on hand to pick and go. Replacement fly-half Phil Godman added the extras to make it 23-18 to Saracens.