Saints 32 Falcons 31

Saturday 15 October 2022 Written by: Adam

Newcastle had snatched a 14-13 half-time lead thanks to a pair of first-half tries from co-captain Tom Penny, his side battling back from 14-0 down after a slow start to the game.

The Saints took the lead as early as the fifth minute when Ollie Sleightholme slid in at the right corner to exploit a simple overlap – Newcastle having enjoyed attacking forays from Pete Lucock and George McGuigan.

Saints doubled their lead eight minutes later when a blind-side foray saw hooker Sam Matavesi catching a cut-out pass to score in the left corner, James Grayson once again firing wide with the conversion.

A jackal turnover from Connor Collett prevented a third try as Northampton tried and failed to score from a five-metre scrum in the left corner, with Sam Stuart and Collett combining to make a mess of the scrum base and force a relieving penalty.

Dogged defence from the Falcons forced Saints to turn to the boot for their next points when Grayson sent over a 25th-minute penalty from in front of the posts, and Newcastle finally got themselves off the mark just after the half-hour.

Tom Penny was the man to score the try, with a 50-metre counter-attack seeing the Falcons build a multi-phase move involving forwards and backs – the full-back eventually darting around the fringes of a ruck ten metres out to ground the ball between the posts.

Brett Connon added the conversion to pass the 300 mark in Falcons colours, and a resurgent Falcons almost found a second try when Mateo Carreras broke out of his 22, Premiership debutant Matty Dalton supported with a searing 60-metre run and the ball was worked out wide to Radwan, who was bundled out in diving for the corner.

That second try duly arrived with the final play of the half, an indisciplined Northampton side conceding repeated penalties inside their own 22 as the patience of referee Jack Makepeace eventually snapped, sending lock Dave Ribbans to the sin bin.

Newcastle took advantage of the extra man with a string of line-out drives which resulted in further penalties, and earned their reward when Penny played advantage to good effect, accepting an inside offload and powering over for a try down the left.

Connon’s conversion handed the Falcons a one-point interval advantage, but both sides were down to 14 inside the opening moment of the second half when Sebastian de Chaves was sin-binned for blocking the passing lane.

Northampton made it count on the scoreboard as Tom Collins scored in the left corner, the Newcastle defence having been sucked towards a maul down the opposite flank before the wall was flung out to the width.

Grayson added the conversion to give his side a six-point lead, and the Falcons were soon down to 13 when Ben Stevenson was shown yellow for a high tackle on his own 22.

Saints kicked a penalty to the corner only for Newcastle to steal the ball, but it was only a temporary reprieve as the home side ran in the bonus-point try on 49 minutes when No.8 Juarno Augustus crashed through a tackle for a converted score in the left corner.

Their two-man advantage told once more when Sleightholme took advantage of the extra numbers to score another down the right, Newcastle taking the opportunity to hand a first-team debut to Guy Pepper for the remaining 25 minutes.

The try of the game arrived on 62 minutes with the Falcons having slow ball inside their own 22 – Mateo Carreras stepping the first few men before putting the hammer down and beating the rest for pace in an 80-metre dash for the line.

His side had the four-try bonus point shortly after when a 50-22 handed them a line-out in the left corner from which Jamie Blamire scored at the base of a driving maul, and Franklin’s Gardens began to panic when the visitors’ reduced the deficit to a single point with nine minutes left.

It all stemmed from a Seb de Chaves chargedown, and when Newcastle won the loose ball 30 metres out it was worked right for replacement George Wacokecoke to score, Brett Connon adding a sublime touchline conversion in what proved to be the final score of the day.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Tom Penny (co-captain, George Wacokecoke, 57), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart (Michael Young, 51); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Logovi’i Mulipola, 62), 2 George McGuigan (co-captain, Jamie Blamire, 62), 3 Richard Palframan (Mark Tampin, 57), 4 Matthew Dalton (Georg Merrick, 75), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Freddie Lockwood (Guy Pepper, 54).

**Scorers -** Tries: Tom Penny 2, Mateo Carreras, Jamie Blamire, George Wacokecoke. Conversions: Brett Connon 3.

**Northampton Saints:** 15 George Furbank, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Fraser Dingwall (captain), 12 Rory Hutchinson (Matt Proctor, 47), 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell (Callum Braley, 52); 1 Alex Waller (Ethan Waller, 51), 2 Sam Matavesi (Robbie Smith, 54), 3 Paul Hill (Alfie Petch, 58), 4 David Ribbans (Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 62), 5 Alex Moon, 6 Alex Coles, 7 Aaron Hinkley, 8 Juarno Augustus (Lewis Ludlam, 62).

**Scorers -** Tries: Ollie Sleightholme 2, Sam Matavesi, Tom Collins, Juarno Augustus. Conversions: James Grayson 2. Penalties: James Grayson.

**Referee:** Jack Makepeace.