Planet Rugby

Saints beat Falcons to stay top

23rd February 2014 16:54

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Northampton number eight Sam Dickinson offloading

Offload: Sam Dickinson

Northampton Saints will top the Aviva Premiership standings for at least another round after they edged out Newcastle 22-16 at Kingston Park.

It was not the most fluid performance from the Saints, but the visitors did well to take a 19-6 lead into the break after playing against a testing wind, with two James Wilson tries either side of Tom Stephenson's effort.

The Falcons scored two penalties from Rory Clegg to keep them within touching distance.

Clegg kicked another penalty to bring the hosts closer, but that was cancelled out by Myler's penalty five minutes later.

Newcastle did give themselves some hope by closing the gap to six points with a converted Noah Cato try three minutes from time, but ultimately they had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Saints took an early lead shortly after Newcastle lost the ball at the lineout, with Wilson going over in the corner to score his third try in four games, with Myler unable to kick a tricky conversion.

The Falcons were off the mark soon after though as sloppy play with the ball give the home side a penalty inside the 22, which Clegg kicked successfully.

Both sides were struggling to gather any real momentum, but Northampton made the best of the situation and a good run to evade the Falcons' defenders saw Stephenson go over, with Myler converting.

Once again, sloppy play from the Saints at the restart saw Newcastle win a penalty, this time for not releasing the ball at the ruck, and Clegg again closed the gap.

Just past the half hour mark the Saints scored their third try of the game. With good overlapping play, George Pisi offloaded to Wilson, who scored his second try of the game, before Myler expertly judged the wind to score his second conversion and give the visitors a 19-6 lead at half time.

After dealing well with the more testing conditions in the second half as the home side were playing into the wind, the Falcons were awarded a penalty after the Saints were penalised for offside, with Clegg making no mistake with the three-pointer to leave them 10 adrift.

The home side were penalised soon after for not releasing in the tackle though, and Myler made no mistake kicking the penalty in front of the posts.

The visitors were failing to find their rhythm in order to put the game to bed, and after increased pressure from Newcastle, Cato picked a Saints pass out of the air to run to the line unopposed, with Joel Hodgson's conversion bringing them within six with just over two minutes to play.

As the Saints chased a winning bonus point with the last play of the game, the hosts settled for a losing one, with Warren Fury putting the ball out to bring an end to the game.

The scorers:

For Newcastle:
Try: Cato
Con: Hodgson
Pen: Clegg 3

For Northampton:
Tries: Wilson 2, Stephenson
Con: Myler 2
Pen: Myler

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Scott MacLeod, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Gary Strain, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Chris York, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Adam Powell.

Northampton Saints: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson (c), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Alex Day, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Ben Foden.

Referee: Andrew Small (Eng)
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Ashley Rowden (both Eng)
TMO: Trevor Fisher (Eng)

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