Planet Rugby

Falcons burgle Vicarage Road

30th December 2007 17:57

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Newcastle celebrate v Saracens

Happy new year! Newcastle celebrate finishing 2007 with a win

A late try by Jamie Noon handed Newcastle Falcons a 22-19 win over high-flying Saracens at Vicarage Road on Sunday in the final Guinness premiership match of 2007.

Hugh Vyvyan's try for Saracens appeared to have sealed the deal for the home team in a thrilling finale, but Noon crashed over on an angle from a rolling maul to hand John Fletcher a timely pick-me-up.

Earlier, Neil De Kock grabbed a try, Gordon Ross kicked two penalties and Glen Jackson one for a disappointing Sarries outfit, who could not turn their second-half pressure into more points.

Newcastle, by contrast, were jubilant at their first league win outside Kingston Park since they beat Sale in November last year, ending a wretched 10-match run.

Maybe that poor form on the road encouraged Saracens boss Alan Gaffney to rest some of his key men, with Richard Hill and Andy Farrell given the day off.

Kevin Yates, David Seymour and Paul Gustard returned in the pack, with Gordon Ross lining up opposite Wilkinson in the playmaking role.

The Falcons were also undermined by sickness in the camp, with Lee Dickson and Geoff Parling among those absent ill but were still able to send out a high-quality backline.

The stars on show and Saracens' scintillating form attracted the biggest crowd in a decade to Vicarage Road with 17,223 clicking their way through the turnstiles.

But the fans flocking to see another big home win were worried in the fourth minute by a superb opening score from the visitors.

Flood's subtly delayed pass opened up a huge hole for Tait to scorch his way outside the cover and into the left-hand corner, with Wilkinson adding an superb conversion.

Ross got Saracens on the board with an eighth-minute penalty but he missed a further shot at goal and Wilkinson was uncharacteristically off target with two kickable efforts from 40 metres.

The home side were reduced to 14 men when hooker Fabio Ongaro was sin-binned for pulling down a maul in the 21st minute and they were punished immediately when Flood found Brent Wilson wide on the left and accepted the return pass to slide over for a second try.

Wilkinson could not convert but traded penalties with Ross just before the break and the Falcons might have been further ahead than their 15-6 interval advantage if Tom May had not been mopped up by the covering defenders when well placed out wide.

Jackson took over from Ross at the break and, as a result, Saracens generated much more momentum with their route-one approach.

The replacement fly-half reduced the deficit to six points with his 49th minute penalty and suddenly Newcastle were facing a real onslaught.

Rodd Penny was denied a score when Tait prevented him from grounding the ball after Chris Jack broke down the right but a second decision referred to the television match official went Saracens' way when De Kock forced his way over 18 minutes from time.

Jackson could not convert, leaving his side trailing by a point, but when Vyvyan cantered over late in the game, normal service appeared to have been resumed.

The Falcons clearly had not read the script, though, and forced their way deep into Saracens territory with Wilkinson's assist setting up Noon to plough through the last line of defence.

The scorers:

For Saracens:

Tries: De Kock, Vyvyan

Pens: Jackson, Ross 2

For Newcastle:

Tries: Tait, Flood, Noon

Cons: Wilkinson 2

Pen: Wilkinson

Saracens: 15 Brent Russell, 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Kevin Sorrell, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Rodd Penney, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Neil de Kock (c), 8 Paul Gustard, 7 David Seymour, 6 Kris Chesney, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Hugh Vyvyan, 3 Cencus Johnston, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Kevin Yates.

Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Cobus Visagie, 18 Tom Ryder, 19 Don Barrell, 20 Moses Rauluni, 21 Glen Jackson, 22 Kameli Ratuvou.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Tom May, 13 Jamie Noon (c), 12 Toby Flood, 11 John Rudd, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 James Grindal, 8 Russell Winter, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Brent Wilson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Andy Long, 1 Jon Golding.

Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 David Wilson, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Tim Visser, 22 Ollie Phillips.

Referee: Sean Davey

Touch judges: Ken Stewart, Paul Dickens

Assessor: Paul Bridgman

Television match official: John Burtenshaw, Geoff Warren

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