Burke exposes Saints' failings

Newcastle Falcons 27 - Northampton 16
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Matt Burke was determined to take part in Australia's weekend celebrations. Man of the match for Newcastle at Kingston Park in front of 6,871 spectators might not be in the same league as lifting the Cook Cup at Twickenham, but Burke's contribution of five penalties was central to the Falcons' success, until the former Wallaby went off after a wild trip by Wylie Human.

Matt Burke was determined to take part in Australia's weekend celebrations. Man of the match for Newcastle at Kingston Park in front of 6,871 spectators might not be in the same league as lifting the Cook Cup at Twickenham, but Burke's contribution of five penalties was central to the Falcons' success, until the former Wallaby went off after a wild trip by Wylie Human.

That episode - for which Human was shown a yellow card - did not change the course of a shapeless, slapdash match in which both sides were guilty of making far too many errors. But though Northampton scored the only try of the game, their new coaching team - put together hurriedly after the departure of Alan Solomons - have plenty of problems to address before they can turn Saints' season around. Their acting head coach, Budge Pountney, was unsurprisingly circumspect after a defeat which, following Harlequins' third victory, leaves Saints at the foot of the table.

"Our discipline let us down," said Pountney. "When we got the technical things right, we looked good. But we didn't get them right for long enough. Even so, we didn't concede a try and our defence was excellent throughout."

Northampton were ahead by a single point at the break, thanks to a try from Jon Clarke, a conversion and two penalties by Shane Drahm. Newcastle's reply began with a Tom May drop goal and the first three of Burke's penalties. If Northampton had followed the example of the tireless Andrew Blowers, or if either of two try-scoring chances had been taken in injury time, Saints would at least have returned home with a bonus point. But even that scant consolation proved beyond them as Dave Walder chipped in with two drop goals and a penalty to add to Burke's last two goals.

Newcastle: Penalties Burke 5, Walder; Drop goals Walder 2, May. Northampton: Try Clarke; Conversion Drahm; Penalties Drahm 3.

Newcastle: M Burke (J Shaw, 71); T May, J Noon (capt), E Taione, M Stephenson; D Walder, J Grindal (H Charlton, 59); J Isaacson, A Long, M Ward (M Hurter, 71), L Gross (S Sititi, 71), A Buist, M McCarthy, C Harris (C Charvis, 59), P Dowson.

Northampton: B Reihana (capt; B Patston, 87); W Human, M Stcherbina, A Vilk, J Clarke (J Rudd, 65); S Drahm, M Robinson (J Howard, 84); C Budgen (R Morris, 76), D Richmond, R Morris (B Sturgess, 52), M Lord, E O'Donoghue (D Browne, 52), M Soden, A Blowers, G Seely.

Referee: G Ashton-Jones (Hampshire).

Comments