Match Report

Saracens - 0

Newcastle Falcons - 11

Saturday 12th Nov 2016

Lacking nothing in spirit and spark they played a full part throughout against the Premiership and European champions, but were undone by the efficiency of Saracens’ mauling game despite putting themselves into the lead with half an hour to go.

There was nothing separating the sides at the midway stage after an opening half dominated by the visitors, who led on 15 minutes via Brett Connon’s penalty from in front of the posts.

Home lock Nick Isiekwe had found himself sin-binned after a string of Saracens infringements in the ruck, Opeti Fonua and Tyrone Holmes among the Newcastle players making life difficult for the Londoners.

Fonua, in particular, had a major impact with his ball-carrying and stewardship of the driving maul, Joel Hodgson kicking the corners on a rainy day in the capital.

Fed by the effervescent Sam Egerton, the Falocons were a try to the good on 23 minutes when scrum ball on the right side of the 22 saw play worked infield by Craig Willis and then Egerton. The resulting ruck two metres from the try-line provided an irresistible launchpad for Fonua to plough over, the big Tongan going route one.

Connon converted for a double-digit lead, Saracens hitting back with a try from centre Nick Tompkins when a Nathan Earle dab ahead saw a scramble for the loose ball which resulted on the home side dotting down.

Tom Whiteley converted, the fly-half missing a penalty from the 22 but making amends on 39 minutes to draw the teams level.

A number of Newcastle’s fringe men took their opportunity to shine, Glen Young rising high to steal Saracens line-out ball while hooker David Nelson offered a threat in the loose. Adam Radwan put in a promising debut out wide along with fellow youngster Dan Marshall, while an early injury for Alex Rogers handed Adam Brocklebank an extended debut run.

The second half brought Harrison Orr into the game as Fonua departed during the interval, the visitors putting in a solid exit via Young’s athletic line-out take, Egerton’s box kick and Marshall’s chase.

Newcastle had the lead once again eight minutes after the resumption via Connon’s 48-metre penalty, Chisanga’s ball-carrying giving his side considerable go-forward as the rain teemed down.

Whiteley drew the teams level with a second penalty of his own, Sarries taking the lead for the first time on 55 minutes when a maul down the left saw hooker Scott Spurling driven over for a converted try.

Newcastle’s task became all the more difficult on 69 minutes when Willis was shown a red card for an alleged tip tackle, Saracens immediately using the extra man to put George Perkins away for a bonus point try in the right corner.

The visitors found a consolation when debutant Santiago Socino scored from a maul in the left corner, but the home side held out in what remained of the game.

**Saracens:** 15 Andrew Fenby (Matt Gallagher, 51), 14 Mike Ellery (George Perkins, 68), 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Tom Griffiths, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Tom Whiteley, 9 Henry Taylor (Neil De Kock, 51); 1 Richard Barrington (Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 51), 2 Scott Spurling (Jared Saunders, 58), 3 Petrus Du Plessis (Billy Walker, 57), 4 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Mark Flanagan (Jack Nay, 61), 6 Joel Conlon, 7 Kelly Brown (captain), 8 Samu Vunisa (Ben Earl, 58).

**Sin bin:** Nick Isiekwe (16).

**Saracens scorers –** Tries: Nick Tompkins, Scott Spurling, Jared Saunders, George Perkins. Conversions: Tom Whiteley 3. Penalties: Tom Whiteley.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Brett Connon, 14 Dan Marshall, 13 Fred Burdon (captain), 12 Craig Willis, 11 Adam Radwan (Tom Ffitch, 77), 10 Joel Hodgson (Ben Stevenson, 55), 9 Sam Egerton (Ruaridh Dawson, 72); 1 Alex Rogers (Adam Brocklebank, 30), 2 David Nelson (Santiago Socino, 63), 3 Scott Wilson (Paddy Ryan, 59), 4 Mouritz Botha, 5 Glen Young, 6 Joshua Chisanga, 7 Tyrone Holmes (Daniel Temm, 59), 8 Opeti Fonua (Harrison Orr, 40).

**Red card:** Craig Willis (69).

**Falcons scorers –** Tries: Opeti Fonua, Santiago Socino. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon 2.

**Referee:** Mike Adamson.