MATCH REPORT | Saracens Men 29-23 Newcastle Falcons
Saracens claimed a 29-23 win over Newcastle Falcons at StoneX Stadium in Round 18, extending their lead to 27 points clear of fifth place and enhancing their play-off hopes.
It was a dominant opening half from the hosts who ran in five tries against a 14-man Newcastle.
The visitors persisted in closing the gap with two tries and three penalties of their own but Sarries emerged victorious.
Saracens started hard, punching up from the outset, and were rewarded with the lead just two minutes in through Eroni Mawi. The prop’s one handed dot down in the right corner came as Billy Vunipola’s soft hands found Alex Lozowski who made the final pass for Mawi to power over.
Falcons hit back immediately as they opted to collect three points from the boot of Brett Connon. It took no time for the visitors to further assert themselves in the race as Philip van der Walt surged over the white-wash from close range on the ten minute mark.
But Sarries responded in kind to end the first quarter. Alex Lewington skipped past Connon and over on the edge after Alex Goode’s slick distribution out wide stretched the opposition’s defence.
At the restart it was disaster for the Northern side as Greg Peterson received a red for clashing heads with Theo Dan, a move that would allow the hosts to flex their dominance.
Premiership debutant Olly Hartley showed his potential and class throughout but the centre was denied the cherry on top. A beautiful offload from Billy Vunipola was met by the youngster as he danced his way over the line only to be held up.
But revenge was claimed when one became two for Lewington shortly after. Dan burst through a tackle and Ivan van Zyl found the winger who finished in the same corner as his first.
Falcons once again opted for the three points but it would do little to quell the Sarries storm.
As the rain came down at the home of the Men in Black, the side delivered another stunning try on the half an hour mark. Billy Vunipola continued his offloading antics, unleashing a barrelling Andy Christie who in turn linked-up with van Zyl to go over. The extras were then secured by Goode.
The final stages of the first half saw some slick hands in attack from Sarries, pulling it back to create time on the ball. Mark McCall’s team secured the bonus point before the break as Dan ran over after collecting a lovely offload from Christie.
Goode once again added the conversion leaving Saracens ahead 29-13 at the break.
Proceedings were scrappy in the second half. More glory looked on the cards as the clock ticked over 50 for Saracens with some fantastic offloads unleashing Dan once again but the ball went to floor, was lost and then regained before being cleared by Goode into the corner.
Christie was unrelenting, asserting himself with some huge hits in defence. The flanker found a gap in the 54th minute and was well supported by Ben Earl but his counter-part was pulled down just short.
Newcastle looked to hit back when they broke from their 22 through the pace of Ben Stevenson who linked up with Connon before receiving the ball back. Nothing was to come of it however as Adam Radwan’s pass went to floor and into touch two metres out.
Radwan redeemed himself by pouncing in the final ten minutes after a quick Newcastle line-out. The winger streamed untouched down the outside channel and over the whitewash and Connon successfully added the extras.
There were spirited final efforts from Sarries to extend their lead further but Falcons held strong and slotted a final penalty kick at the death leaving the final score 29-23 for the hosts.
Saracens now sit 27 points above fifth position and have further solidified their play-off ambitions with a tense top of the table clash against Sale Sharks on the horizon in Round 20.