Planet Rugby

Saracens cut loose against Falcons

21st September 2008 17:16

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Saracen leaves Falcon

MIchael Owen leaves Adam Balding in his wake as Saracens run riot

Saracens got their first win of the Guinness Premiership on Sunday, hammering Newcastle 44-14 in a one-sided affair that Eddie Jones' men led 44-0 with ten minutes to go before easing their foot off the gas.

The result serves to underline that Newcastle are going to struggle against relegation this season, and that with the glaring exception of Jonny Wilkinson, they are short of the necessary strength in depth that other clubs have. It may end up a tail-to-tail race between Bristol and Newcastle.

Fly-half Glen Jackson kicked 17 points with left-wing Kameli Ratuvou, Kevin Sorrell, Hugh Vyvyan, Rod Penney and Gordon Ross, who also converted the last one, running in second half tries to claim the bonus point, as Saracens claimed their long-overdue first win of the season.

Newcastle, heavily punished for their indiscipline, were reduced to 13 players midway through the second half when skipper Phil Dowson and back row colleague Ed Williamson were both yellow-carded within the space of a minute.

The influential Jackson contributed 17 of the Saracens points, with four penalties, a drop goal and a conversion - as well as outshining Jonny Wilkinson.

Coach Eddie Jones relied on the starting line-up sunk by a late Charlie Hodgson drop goal at Sale last weekend and his faith in the side which lost their opening two matches by three-point margins was amply rewarded.

Jackson kicked three penalties in the opening 21 minutes as Newcastle fell foul of referee Dean Richards at the breakdown.

The home side, appearing to actually be trying to play too much rugby, failed to produce the penetration to turn their superiority into tries in the first half.

However, Jackson stretched their lead to 15-0 with a pinpoint 30-metre drop goal and a fourth penalty with the last kick of the first-half.

The tries followed after the interval as the home pack, with England lock Steve Borthwick - installed as skipper by Jones - and Welsh international number eight Michael Owen helped the Saracens pack dominate the visitors on their first appearances for their new club at Vicarage Road.

Only a desperate diving tackle by Wilkinson, who had tried in vain to inspire outgunned Newcastle, denied Fijian left-wing Ratuvou a try following a 70-metre run to within stretching distance of the Falcons line.

But he only had to wait a minute before charging down a hesitant kick from Newcastle right-wing Tom May and diving over in the 45th minute.

Ratuvou was heavily involved again as Saracens struck again three minutes later with a superbly-worked try.

Jackson's exquisite crossfield kick found Ratuvou on the wing and he chipped the ball over centre Spencer Davey, collected and drew May and Wilkinson before passing inside to leave Sorrell a run to the line.

Sarries were on a roll and Dowson was despatched to the sin-bin for preventing them from recycling the ball.

Opting for a scrum instead of a penalty kick, the hosts were rewarded when Williamson committed an identical offence and followed his captain.

They again spurned the kick at goal to release Vyvyan, who powered over the line.

The bonus point was clinched in the 66th minute when Saracens produced their fourth touchdown in a devastating 21-minute spell.

Scrum-half Neil de Kock broke from inside his own 22, scythed through the depleted Newcastle midfield and headed for the touchline, committing May and Wilkinson to the tackle before returning the ball inside to lay on the try for right-wing Penney.

Scottish international Ross replaced Jackson at fly-half and rubbed salt into the already deep Newcastle wounds with the home side's fifth try, adding the conversion himself.

The visitors finally hit back with two late tries - but they were little more than a token response.

May's perseverance created an opening for Wilkinson to race in for his 75th-minute touchdown, which the World Cup winner converted.

Then the winger struck himself, with Wilkinson adding a cheeky trademark drop goal for the conversion.

However, this defeat leaves notorious bad travellers Newcastle - who achieved their first Premiership win of the season when they beat Northampton at home last weekend - still without a league win on their travels in 2008.

Head coach Steve Bates has to go back even further for his last win on the road.Bates, who took over from John Fletcher last season, has not tasted an away victory in charge since his former club Border Reivers beat Glasgow Warriors 20-8 at Firhill in the Celtic League in March 2006.

The scorers:

For Saracens:

Tries: Ratuvou, Sorrell, Vyvyan, Penney, Ross

Cons: Jackson, Ross

Pens: Jackson 4

Drop goal: Jackson

For Newcastle:

Tries: Wilkinson, May

Cons: Wilkinson 2

Yellow cards: Dowson 58, Williamson 59, both Newcastle

Saracens: 15 Richard Haughton, 14 Rodd Penney, 13 Kevin Sorrell, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Kameli Ratuvou, 10 Glen Jackson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Michael Owen, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Chris Jack, 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Cencus Johnston, 2 Fabio Ongaro,1 Matias Aguero.

Replacements: 16 Matt Cairns, 17 Cobus Visagie, 18 Kris Chesney, 19 Ben Skirving, 20 Moses Rauluni, 21 Gordon Ross, 22 Chris Wyles.

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom May, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Spencer Davey, 11 John Rudd, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 James Grindal, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ed Williamson, 6 Adam Balding, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Andy Long, 1 Micky Ward.

Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Jon Golding, 18 Tim Swinson, 19 Andy Buist, 20 Hall Charlton, 21 Ollie Phillips, 22 Rory Clegg.

Referee: Dean Richards

Touch judges: Andrew Pearce, Bob Mullis

Television match official: John Burtenshaw

Assessor: Tony Spreadbury

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