Match Report

- - 20

Newcastle Falcons - 0

Sunday 21st Feb 2016

An entertaining spectacle was watched by 7,218 as the Falcons built a 20-11 half time lead, holding on in a tense climax thanks in no small part to the boot of Andy Goode.

The Fly Half kept the Saints pinned back inside their own territory out of hand, slotting six from six off the tee in another emphatic display of experienced controlling play.

Newcastle roared out of the blocks and thought they had the first try just two minutes in, the video referee ruling Marcus Watson’s try off due to an obstruction in back-field play.

Unperturbed, the Falcons had themselves over the whitewash again on seven minutes when a series of rucks in front of the posts sucked in the defensive numbers.

Goode’s vision and ability execute a loop pass to the right corner handed Alex Tait a run-in, Goode making easy work of a tricky conversion from wide out and with a swirling wind.

Northampton bit back when flanker Jamie Gibson crossed from a close-range ruck down the right-hand side, Stephen Myler’s conversion and penalty putting the visitors ahead.

The lead changed hands another two times in quick succession as Goode and Myler traded penalties, Newcastle’s fast tempo causing problems for the Saints’ scrambling defence as Simon Hammersley and Watson attacked with ball in hand.

The video referee earned the ire of the home fans when an apparent stamp to the head of Ally Hogg went unpunished, but there was ample cause for cheer in front of a sold out South Stand when Chris Harris scored Newcastle’s second try in the right corner.

Runs from Hammersley and Watson helped create a ruck one metre from the try line, the big Cumbrian propelling his frame over before Goode added yet another well-taken conversion.

There was time for one more score before the change of ends, Newcastle’s scrum dominance earning them a penalty wide out on the right which Goode expertly dispatched.

That left his side nine up for the start of the second half, a lead which was rapidly increased when Goode chipped away with another two penalties from the right.

It was a goal-kicking masterclass from the Premiership’s second highest all-time points scorer, but his side were forced to hang on in a Kingston Park cracker of a finish.

The injection of replacement Fly Half JJ Hanrahan helped spark a Saints fightback, ex-Newcastle Scrum Half Lee Dickson sniping in for the first of his two tries from a ruck on the left hand side.

He was at it again when the visitors kicked a penalty to the corner and set up a maul a metre out, Dickson awarded the score after consultation with the video referee.

Hanrahan’s conversion left them just one behind, the Kingston Park faithful more than doing their bit with supreme vocal backing to their battling heroes.

Tait and Goode pegged the Saints back with some well-judged kicking options, and when Newcastle stole a line out inside their own half the job was officially done.

**Newcastle Falcons**
A Hammersley, A Tait, C Harris (JP Socino, 68), A Powell, M Watson, A Goode, M Young (T Takulua, 68); R Vickers, S Lawson (G McGuigan, 66), T Vea (K Hatakeyama, 63), M Botha, S Robinson (J Furno, 27, R Mayhew, 63), M Wilson, W Welch (captain), A Hogg.

Falcons scorers – Tries: A Tait, C Harris. Conversions: A Goode 2. Penalties: A Goode 4.

**Northampton Saints**
B Foden, J Elliott, L Burrell, H Mallinder, J Wilson (G Pisi, 61), S Myler (JJ Hanrahan, 48), L Dickson (captain, T Kessell, 71); A Waller (E Waller, 72), M Haywood, K Brookes, J Craig (V Matfield, 72), C Day, J Gibson, T Wood, S Dickinson (T Harrison, 56).

Saints scorers – Tries: J Gibson, L Dickson 2. Conversions: JJ Hanrahan 2. Penalties: S Myler 2.

Referee: Wayne Barnes. Attendance: 7,218.