Match Report

Northampton Saints - 38

Newcastle Falcons - 13

Saturday 27th Jan 2024 | KO 14:00 | cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens

Newcastle Falcons showed plenty of attacking intent but ultimately left the East Midlands in defeat as Northampton Saints took all five Gallagher Premiership points from Saturday’s battle at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

The visitors trailed 19-13 at the midway point of a helter-skelter match which lacked nothing in entertainment value, interim head coach Micky Ward taking charge of his last game before the start of the Steve Diamond era.

The Falcons registered the first score of the afternoon just seven minutes in when Louie Johnson chipped over a simple penalty in front – Northampton killing a ruck near their own posts after skipper Callum Chick had intercepted inside his own half and grubbered into the Saints’ 22.

The hosts went in front on 13 minutes when a close-range tap penalty saw Courtney Lawes crash over in the left corner – Charlie Savala adding the touchline conversion.

But their lead lasted less than five minutes as Newcastle won a turnover from the restart and embarked on a spall of pressure which ended with Adam Radwan scoring in the right corner.

The winger was on the end of a move which began with a scrum-five down the left-hand side, the ball being worked along the line by Cameron Hutchison and Elliott Obatoyinbo for Radwan to apply the finishing touch.

Johnson slotted the touchline conversion, but the see-saw scoring pattern continued when Northampton were awarded a penalty try for Freddie Lockwood being judged to have strayed offside near his own try-line.

That earned the flanker ten minutes in the sin bin, but his side responded well to being a man down and reduced the Saints’ lead to a single point when Johnson slotted a penalty after Ben Stevenson’s 50-22 got them into the red zone.

The hosts added five to that margin on 33 minutes when they kicked a penalty to the corner and scored from the subsequent maul – hooker Sam Matavesi the man to ground the unconverted try.

A line-break from Johnson and a wide pass right to Radwan got Newcastle back into the Northampton 22 without return – the Saints’ 19-13 lead remaining in tact at the interval as they successfully absorbed some late Falcons pressure.

The Falcons’ maul defence dug them out of trouble during the early exchanges of the second half when the Saints kicked a penalty into the 22 and left empty-handed, but there was no stopping Tom James on 51 minutes when the scrum-half scored a converted try between the posts from a simple two-on-one to secure the bonus point.

Newcastle continued to press and had an Adam Radwan try denied by the TMO from a pick-and-go in the right corner, quickly followed by an Eduardo Bello burst which saw the Argentina prop held up over the try-line.

Countryman Matias Morini wriggled out of a tackle on the hour mark but just knocked on a metre away from the line, but Northampton were more clinical in attack and wrapped up the result when Ollie Sleightholme sped down the right for their fifth try of the day.

The Falcons weren’t about to give up and almost went the length for a sensational try when Moroni’s chip-and-chase found its way to the returning Mateo Carreras, who beat a defender down the left before his offload just drifted forward.

But the last say went to Northampton when replacement Juarno Augustus scored a converted try from a pick-and-go in the right corner, Savala adding the touchline conversion.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Cameron Hutchison (Rory Jennings, 47), 11 Ben Stevenson (Mateo Carreras, 47), 10 Louie Johnson, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan (Sam Stuart, 55); 1 Phil Brantingham (Adam Brocklebank, 58), 2 Bryan Byrne (Michael van Vuuren, 60-64), 3 Murray McCallum (Eduardo Bello, 47), 4 John Hawkins (Tim Cardall, 58), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Freddie Lockwood (Josh Bainbridge, 72), 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Scorers – Tries: Adam Radwan. Conversions: Louie Johnson. Penalties: Louie Johnson 2.

Northampton Saints: 15 Rory Hutchinson, 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Joel Matavesi, 64), 13 Burger Odendaal (Callum Braley, 67), 12 Tom Litchfield, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Tom James; 1 Alex Waller (Tarek Haffar, 53), 2 Sam Matavesi (Robbie Smith, 71), 3 Trevor Davison (Elliot Millar-Mills, 62) 4 Temo Mayanavanua (Alex Moon, 49), 5 Chunya Munga, 6 Courtney Lawes (Angus Scott-Young, 62), 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain, Juarno Augustus, 60), 8 Sam Graham.

Scorers – Tries: Courtney Lawes, penalty try, Sam Matavesi, Tom James, Ollie Sleightholme, Juarno Augustus. Conversions: Charlie Savala 3.

Referee: Sara Cox.