Saints fall just short in defeat at Newcastle

Saints were beaten at Kingston Park (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Saints were beaten at Kingston Park (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints’ inconsistent season continued as an Andy Goode-inspired Newcastle Falcons claimed a sixth successive home win at Kingston Park.

Jim Mallinder’s men almost mounted a late comeback, having been 26-11 down, but the Falcons held out to record an impressive 26-25 victory.

Saints had been bidding to win three successive Aviva Premiership games for the first time this season, having seen off Harlequins and London Irish during the previous two weeks.

But Newcastle’s fire and desire proved too hot to handle, with Goode’s relentless kicking display supplementing scores from Alex Tait and Chris Harris.

Lee Dickson was in good form for Saints, with the skipper scoring twice, while Jamie Gibson got the away side’s opening score of the afternoon.

But it wasn’t to be enough as Newcastle just about managed to close the game out, leaving Saints with a losing bonus point that keeps them sixth in the league standings.

Saints had gone into the match on the back of a morale-boosting 35-7 success against London Irish eight days earlier, but they were almost stung early on at Kingston Park.

Marcus Watson thought he’d scored for the Falcons, but referee Wayne Barnes handed Saints a reprieve, ruling the effort out for obstruction in the build-up.

The home fans booed the decision, which was made after Barnes had taken time looking at replays on the big screen, and Saints used the penalty to clear their lines.

But the ball kept coming back and Andy Goode’s lofted pass found Tait, who had a free run to the line.

It was no more than the dominant home side deserved and Goode’s assured conversion put the icing on the cake.

With nine minutes having elapsed, the kick-off gave Saints a first chance to enter Falcons territory and only a knock-on prevented them from really pressuring the home line.

They didn’t have to wait much longer to score though as a well-worked move from right to left led to Gibson crashing over.

Stephen Myler missed the conversion in a strong breeze, but the fly-half was soon on target with a penalty in front of the posts after the Falcons failed to roll away.

But Newcastle were back in front almost immediately as Jamie Elliott conceded a penalty and Goode landed it with aplomb.

The Falcons fans were soon venting their fury at Barnes, feeling Dickson should have been sent off for a stamp on Ally Hogg.

But having viewed the footage on the screen once more, the referee decided against taking any action, sticking with his original penalty award to Saints.

The away side worked their way upfield and won another penalty, with Myler putting them them 11-10 up with an easy effort from in front of the posts.

But Newcastle looked threatening every time they went forward and after Luther Burrell stopped Simon Hammersley, Harris picked up to dive over the line.

Goode wasn’t in the mood to miss, again landing a touchline conversion to give his team a six-point cushion.

And that was to be a nine-point buffer before the break as Goode landed a penalty earned at a Saints scrum.

The home side had been quicker to everything, smothering Saints at every turn, and that was to continue at the start of the second period.

A penalty won at the breakdown gave Goode another chance - and, once again, he refused to miss.

Saints were submerged, sinking without a trace and Goode soon stuck the knife in again, slotting yet another penalty.

But the introduction of JJ Hanrahan was to pay dividends for Mallinder’s men, who finally summoned a response.

The Irishman led an attack after a scrum five metres from the Falcons line and Dickson was sharp as he spotted the possibility to dive over for a vital try.

Hanrahan converted and Saints had cut the Falcons lead to eight points.

The replacement No.10 then attempted to reward more Saints pressure with a drop goal, but his attempt barely got off the ground, giving possession back to the Falcons.

But Saints finally had the bit between their teeth and after some impressive work from the forwards in the scrum and the maul, Dickson picked up to burrow over.

Hanrahan converted to cut the Newcastle lead to just one point with 11 minutes to go.

Now it was all about who dealt with the pressure and both teams tried to kick for territory.

When Saints did get the ball in hand, they almost carved the Falcons open, but George Pisi’s pass at the last just went astray.

Falcons then turned the ball over at a breakdown and a roar greeted Barnes’s penalty award.

But with 30 seconds to go, Saints won a penalty of their own inside their own half, earning the chance of a lineout in Newcastle territory.

But the throw failed to find its target and Falcons grabbed the ball before kicking it out to spark celebrations among the home fans.

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley; Tait, Harris (Socino 69), Powell, Watson; Goode, Young (Takulua 69); Vickers, Lawson (McGuigan 66), Vea (Hatakeyama 63); Botha, Robinson (Furno 27 (Mayhew 63)); Wilson, Welch (c), Hogg.

Saints: Foden; Elliott, Burrell, Mallinder, Wilson (G Pisi 61); Myler (Hanrahan 49), Dickson (c) (Kessell 72); A Waller (E Waller 72), Haywood, Brookes; Craig (Matfield 72), Day; Gibson, Wood, Dickinson (Harrison 56).

Referee: Wayne Barnes