Northampton Saints 39 – 31 Newcastle Falcons

Friday 02 January 2015 Written by: Adam

A 77th minute touch-down from Richard Mayhew rewarded the Falcons’ never-say-die spirit, their attacking credentials once again in evidence as they surpassed last season’s Premiership try tally inside 12 games.

The Falcons had flown out of the blocks in a blistering start, Anitelea Tuilagi marking his first Premiership start for the club with a string of rampaging busts down the middle.

The big Samoan was a serial line-breaker and managed to get his offloads away, Newcastle right in the contest despite trailing 10-0 on the quarter mark.

That was after fly-half Stephen Myler followed up his ninth-minute penalty with a converted try in the right corner, collecting a pass out of the tackle from Ken Pisi after an infield surge from the winger.

A solid set-piece platform and an ambitious outlook served the Falcons well, Tom Catterick’s vision and Chris Harris’ try-scoring instinct delivering a score for the latter when his fly-half stood up the Northampton defence with a well-weighted grubber to the right corner.

After the deliberations of the video referee Catterick stepped up to nail the touch-line conversion, adding a penalty just before the half-hour to draw the teams level.

It was clear that reputations meant little to a Newcastle team intent on attacking, though the Saints managed to achieve a 17-10 half-time lead when Myler’s dab in behind the line allowed George Pisi to ground the ball in-goal.

The second half produced similar levels of drama, although it was Northampton who began the brighter as Myler’s second penalty extended their lead to 10 points.

Josh Furno’s sin-binning tipped the balance further in the direction of the league leaders, who took almost immediate advantage when Calum Clark accepted an inside pass to score in the right corner.

Referee Ian Tempest further hammered home their dominance by awarding a penalty from a close-range maul, the league leaders seemingly in a position of comfort at 32-10.

But this Newcastle side do not know the meaning of the word ‘surrender’, as demonstrated by the three tries they managed in a manic closing quarter.

Replacement hooker George McGuigan was first over the whitewash after a penalty was kicked to the left corner, the former Ireland Under-20s cap driven over in a well-constructed maul.

The pick of the visitors’ tries arrived on 65 minutes when Harris’ line-break and Tom Penny’s support run freed Alex Tait for a score in the left corner, the four-try bonus point now just a single score away as they maintained their pressure.

Luther Burrell’s touch-down in the left corner from an offload off the deck ensured the result remained in no doubt, but the Falcons still managed to finish with a flourish when work-horse Mayhew was at the heart of another barnstorming driven maul.

Catterick converted from wide right to further enhance the sense of respectability around the score-line, his side carrying considerable momentum into next Sunday’s televised home date with London Welsh.

NEWCASTLE FALCONS: A Tait, C Harris, A Powell, An Tuilagi (R Clegg, 57), D Barnes (T Penny, 40), T Catterick, M Blair (R Tipuna, 73); E Fry (R Vickers, 57), S Lawson (G McGuigan, 57), K Brookes (A Rogers, 57), C Green, J Furno, R Mayhew, W Welch (captain), M Wilson.
Sin-bin: J Furno, 48.
Falcons scorers – Tries: C Harris, G McGuigan, A Tait, R Mayhew. Conversions: T Catterick 4. Penalties: T Catterick.
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS: B Foden, K Pisi, G Pisi (T Stephenson, 71), L Burrell, G North, S Myler (J Wilson, 59), L Dickson (J Hodgson, 75); A Waller (A Corbisiero, 51), M Haywood (M Williams, 68), S Ma’afu (G Denman, 56), S Dickinson, C Day (T Wood, 46), C Clark (B Nutley, P Dowson (captain), S Manoa.
Saints scorers – Tries: S Myler, G Pisi, C Clark, Penalty try, L Burrell. Conversions: S Myler 3, J Wilson. Penalties: S Myler 2.
Referee: I Tempest. Attendance: 13,362.