Newcastle have not beaten Saracens since February 2009. On the evidence of this game, Dean Richards’ men will not have to wait much longer. “We have a five-year plan but on the evidence of this we look like we’re two years ahead of that,” said Richards. “I’m disappointed with the result but delighted with the effort.”
The win keeps Sarries in the running for the Premiership title and they probably would have felt cheated had they been held to the draw. “I felt we deserved to win and would have been gutted if we hadn’t,” said their director of rugby, Mark McCall. “But Newcastle must be the most improved side in the Premiership and they pushed us all the way.”
Saracens were in control when they led 25-13 with 10 minutes to go but two tries in five minutes from Chris Harris on his Premiership debut – the second with the last play of the game – gave Juan Pablo Socino the chance of drawing the match. However, the Argentinian’s conversion attempt from wide out shaved the post to leave the Falcons with just the losing bonus point. “Chris Harris looks like our super-sub,” added Richards. “I don’t think he’ll be going back to Rotherham on loan now.”
Saracens led 10-6 at the break thanks to a snappy Neil de Kock try engineered by Owen Farrell, who converted and kicked a penalty to two penalties from Socino.
Roared on by their best crowd for six years, Newcastle came back into it just after half-time when Tom Catterick’s hack at the loose ball was pursued by Sinoti Sinoti all the way for a 70-metre try which Socino converted for 13-10. Nick Tompkins dived through to give Saracens back the lead and when Chris Ashton scored wide out with just 10 minutes left it looked all over.
Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Sinoti, Powell, Socino, Tuilagi (Harris, 24, Penny, 47-55); Catterick, Blair (Tipuna, 63); Vickers (McGuigan, 61), Lawson (Fry, 61), Brookes (S Wilson, 61), Green, Thompson (Furno, 71), M Wilson (Saull, 71), Welch (capt), Hogg.
Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Bosch, Farrell, Wyles (Strettle, 72); Hodgson (Tompkins, 41), De Kock (Wigglesworth, 51); M Vunipola (Barrington, 77), George, Johnston, Hamilton (Itoje, 68), Hargreaves, B Vunipola (capt), Burger, Joubert (Wray, 58).
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU).