MATCH REPORT | Newcastle Falcons 21-36 Saracens Men
Saracens Men secured a vital away win in the Gallagher Premiership as they beat Newcastle Falcons 36-21 at Kingston Park.
Two tries in the final 10 minutes confirmed the win after an edgy encounter in the sun which swung both ways for large periods of the match.
It was the hosts who started on the front foot and they opened the scoring with just five minutes on the clock. A penalty gave them early territory in the Sarries 22, and they took full advantage as George McGuigan was at the base of the rolling maul to drive over the line. Will Haydon-Wood’s excellent conversion put his side 7-0 ahead.
Sarries responded well however, and got themselves level 10 minutes later. Two huge scrums were rewarded with two penalties which saw the visitors just five metres from the line. Then in trademark fashion Tom Woolstencroft patiently waited for the maul to creep over, and dot down for his 10th try of the season. Alex Goode added the extras to make it 7-7 as we headed towards the second quarter.
Newcastle hit back with two penalties in quick succession from Haydon-Wood to edge in front for the second time, but then the Londoners hit the front with a crucial penalty try.
They went through a number of phases in the 22, and then Mike Brown batted away Alex Lozowski’s grubber when Rotimi Segun was certain to score, giving Ian Tempest no option but to go under the sticks and award Sarries the full seven points.
More ill-discipline then cost the visitors another three points as Haydon-Wood kicked his third penalty after a high tackle, meaning the Falcons had a 16-14 lead with 30 minutes played.
Aled Davies then thought he had scored as he dummied from the base of a ruck to snipe down the blindside, but a knock on allowed the Falcons to escape.
Jackson Wray, who had regularly hammered over the gain line in the first half then made another break in to the 22 which ended in a penalty, and Goode dissected the posts to put Sarries 17-16 ahead.
That is how it stayed until half time as an extended passage of play from the Falcons threatened the line, but the defence stayed firm and went down the tunnel with a one point advantage at the break.
Sarries made the perfect start to the second half as Elliott Obatoyinbo crossed for their third try just four minutes after the restart.
A brilliant sweeping attack which went from left to right multiple times went all the way from the 10 metre line to within touching distance, and then some neat hands created an overlap for the full back who was able to step his way over. Goode’s delightful conversion meant that all of a sudden the visitors had an eight point lead.
Newcastle refused to lie down however and came very close to scoring just a minute later. They broke off the base of a scrum and benefitted from a fumble when Sarries looked to clear, but then McGuigan was held up over the line and that allowed McCall’s side to escape.
McGuigan had another chance just five minutes later, and this time he wouldn’t be stopped to bring Newcastle right back in to the match. A penalty was kicked to the corner, and just like he did in the first half he broke away from the maul to give the home supporters some hope. The conversion went wide, but the lead was now down to just three points.
Both sides were then using their kicking game as they looked for all-important territory, and Davies was coming in to his own with a series of brilliant box kicks to inch Sarries up the pitch.
After another Davies grubber Sarries got a penalty in the Newcastle 22, and this time the pressure told as Rotimi Segun crossed for the bonus point try which all-but sealed the win. The penalty was kicked to the corner, and despite the maul being held up it was recycled to Segun who was free in the right hand corner to score.
The conversion went just wide but the lead was crucially out of try-scoring range with the final five minutes remaining.
There was still time for Goode, who was Player of the Match to add further gloss to the scoreboard with a try in the final minute. His exceptional 50:22 took his side up towards the line, and then Davies spun it straight to the former England man who carried over from first phase to confirm the win.
The ball was then smashed in to the stands from the restart to seal what could well be a crucial win for the Men in Black.