Perfect 10 for Saints as they secure six-try success against Newcastle Falcons

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Saints made it a perfect 10 as they claimed a 38-13 win against Newcastle Falcons at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday afternoon.

The black, green and gold won their 10th match in succession, ensuring the absence of so many key men didn't matter as they got the job done against the Gallagher Premiership's bottom side.

Saints were without seven players due to England duty and they were also missing the likes of Curtis Langdon, George Hendy, James Ramm and Tom Seabrook.

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But their squad depth was on show as they scored six tries against the Falcons, ensuring it will be Phil Dowson's men who go into the Six Nations break sitting top of the table.

Ollie Sleightholme in action for Saints against Newcastle (picture: Adam Gumbs)Ollie Sleightholme in action for Saints against Newcastle (picture: Adam Gumbs)
Ollie Sleightholme in action for Saints against Newcastle (picture: Adam Gumbs)

Saints went into the game against Falcons on a phenomenal run of form, but they went behind early on at the Gardens as Louie Johnson slotted a penalty.

The Falcons were defending resolutely, refusing to allow Saints to make any ground as they tried to push into the 22.

But after the away side gave away a couple of penalties in their own half, Saints turned the screw, with Courtney Lawes forcing his way over in the corner.

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Charlie Savala, starting at fly-half with Fin Smith away, lined up the kick from the touchline, and he had just enough on the well-directed effort to ensure it went over.

Saints weren't ahead for long though as they failed to claim the restart and the Falcons applied pressure, with Elliott Obatoyinbo delivering a fine pass for the waiting Adam Radwan to score on the right.

Johnson slotted the conversion and the Falcons had their three-point lead back with the clock closing in on 20 minutes.

But Saints refused to be deterred and when penalties came their way, they opted to go for the corner.

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A big shove from the pack provided the platform and as Ollie Sleightholme tried to score, Falcons flanker Freddie Lockwood came in at the side to prevent the try.

Lockwood was sent to the sin bin and referee Sara Cox awarded a penalty try to Saints.

But the home side failed to make any inroads against the 14 men, and it was to be the Falcons who notched the next points in the match as they secured a cheap penalty, which Johnson slotted with ease.

Saints tried to respond with a dazzling run from Sleightholme, but he was stopped by a superb tap tackle from Falcons centre Cameron Hutchison and the ball went forward on the ground.

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Lockwood returned from the sin bin and Saints had really struggled to get anywhere, but they would score immediately after as a huge lineout drive allowed Sam Matavesi to spin away in clever fashion to dive over.

Savala sent the conversion attempt wide and Falcons were soon threatening again as some intelligent play from Johnson caused problems. The fly-half chipped ahead and gathered before giving the ball to livewire Radwan, who was just about halted.

The Falcons kept flying forward and it took a huge intervention from Sam Graham to win a penalty at the breakdown just in front of the posts.

Saints retained their six-point lead at half-time and they looked to extend that gap after the break as Hutchinson delivered another superb kick to touch to put his team in the corner.

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But the Falcons defended the lineout drive better on this occasion and they were able to clear well into the Saints half.

However, the home side kept believing in their work and after Tom Litchfield did superbly to win a breakdown penalty inside his own 22, Saints pieced together a fine move.

Savala's offload was key, unlocking the door for Litchfield to fly forward and offload for the onrushing Tom James to score the bonus-point try.

Savala converted from in front of the posts and Saints led 26-13, but the Falcons kept coming and Chunya Munga made a big stop on his own line to prevent the away side from scoring.

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Saints were still under pressure though and it took some great work from Lewis Ludlam to hold the Falcons up over the line.

Finally the home side found a way to get out, and when they did, they made the most of it.

A speedy move to the right saw Rory Hutchinson release Sleightholme and the winger finished in typically fine fashion, skipping around the defender to score.

Savala hit the post with the conversion and the game then became extremely scrappy.

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Callum Braley came on for the impressive Burger Odendaal, who looked to be nursing a slight injury, and Braley soon made an impact in defence, racing back to stop Mateo Carreras scoring.

Saints were soon back up the other end as Graham pouched a bouncing ball before stretching out an arm in an attempt to score, but he was just short of the line. However, Juarno Augustus picked up to dive over in the corner.

Savala converted impressively from the touchline to make it 38-13 and Augustus threatened again with a bullodozing run before Falcons raced back to stop him.

Falcons replacement Rory Jennings was sin-binned before the end as Saints pushed for more.

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It wasn’t to be, but the mission was more than completed as the black, green and gold celebrated a double-figure win streak in front of their jubilant fans.

Saints: Hutchinson; Hamer-Webb (J Matavesi 65), Odendaal (Braley 67), Litchfield, Sleightholme; Savala, James; A Waller (Haffar 54), S Matavesi (R Smith 70), Davison (Millar Mills 63); Mayanavanua (Moon 50), Munga; Lawes (Scott-Young 63), Ludlam (Augustus 61) (c), Graham.

Newcastle Falcons: Obatoyinbo; Radwan, Moroni, Hutchison (Jennings 48), Stevenson (Carreras 48); Johnson, O’Sullivan (Stuart 55); Brantingham (Brockelbank 59), Byrne (van Vuuren 61 (Byrne 65)), McCallum (Bello 48); Hawkins (Cardall 59), de Chaves; Lockwood, Pepper, Chick (c).

Referee: Sara Cox