Falcons fail to stop Saracens reclaiming the summit

Newcastle 15 Saracens 22
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The Independent Online

Saracens went back to the top of the Guinness Premiership as they ground out their fifth win from five games to retain their 100 per cent record at Kingston Park.

An interception try from right-wing Richard Haughton plus a try, two conversions and a penalty from fly-half Derick Hougaard gave Brendan Venter's side a 17-15 half-time lead, with left-winger Chris Wyles crossing late on to seal the win.

Newcastle's points came courtesy of five penalties from the boot of fly-half Jimmy Gopperth during a pulsating first half, but they were unable to make the most of their chances.

Newcastle's bid for their first win of the season got off to the worst possible start as scrum-half Micky Young's pass was picked off by Richard Haughton, who strolled under the posts from 30 metres.

Fly-half Gopperth immediately got the Falcons on the board with two penalties, with Hougaard replying to put Sarries 10-6 up.

Saracens continued to give away a stream of penalties – Gopperth landing another three kicks to give the hosts the lead – but the Falcons were unable to clear from a 33rd minute scrum and Hougaard dummied his way over wide out for a converted try, giving the Vicarage Road side a 17-15 lead at the break.

The visitors ground their opponents down in the second half as the excellent kicking of Neil de Kock and Hougaard helped gain a stranglehold on field position , with Brad Barritt and Ernst Joubert making several telling carries.

Newcastle never looked likely to launch a late attack and Saracens' dominance finally told when Fijian centre Kameli Ratuvou got his hands out of an attempted tackle to allow Wyles to cross with four minutes to play.

Scorers: Newcastle: Pens: Gopperth 5. Saracens: Tries: Haughton, Hougaard, Wyles. Cons: Hougaard 2. Pens: Hougaard.

Newcastle: A Tait; Amesbury, Vickerman, Tu'ipulotu, Biggs; Gopperth, Young; Golding, Thompson, Ward, Hudson, Swinson, Williamson, Wilson, Levi. Replacements: Bobo for Amesbury (57), Charlton for Young (60), Brooks for Golding (72), Vickers for Thompson (52), Ovens for Ward (52), Browne for Williamson (60).

Saracens: Goode; Haughton, Ratuvou, Barritt, Wyles; Hougaard, de Kock' Aguero, Brits, Nieto, Vyvyan, Ryder, van Heerden, Melck, Joubert. Replacements: Jackson for Hougaard (65), Gill for Aguero (53), Skuse for Nieto (53), Botha for Ryder (61), Owen for Melck (64).

Not Used: Reynecke, Barrett, Horak.

Attendance: 5,453

Referee: Sean Davey (RFU).