A trip to Scotland that coincided with Saracens playing at Kingston Park meant it was rude not to make my first visit to the home of the Newcastle Falcons. I treated myself to hospitality, great value at £90 for a roast dinner with dessert and a great seat! I had lovely company for the duration too, which was a nice added bonus. A group of long term friends with one Saracens fan in their number, and a father and son who are involved with a great charity I hope to learn more about.

On to the match, this was the proverbial, ‘game of 2 halves’ – and a huge factor in that fact was a nailed on red card incident that saw Saracens got down to 14 men. But that was in the second half, so more of that later.

I had high hopes for a lot of points from both sides in this match, Falcons have 2 very exciting wingers in Adam Radwan and Mateo Carreras , but the pair barely got their hands on the ball, which even as a Saracens fan was disappointing. I was hoping to see both fly!

Adam Radwan didn’t get a chance to show his speed – but he certainly showed he knows how to tackle!

Saracens had put in a superb performance against Leicester Tigers last week and Newcastle had beaten Bristol Bears, but Newcastle hadn’t beaten Saracens since February 2009, that adds up to 20 straight wins for the team from London. Jamie George had limped off against Tigers and Mark Ijote is still missing in action, but a strong Saracens team took the train up North.

As is often the way the stats really don’t tell the story of the result, Newcastle had 52% possession to Saracens 48%, Saracens made 448 metres with their 48% Newcastle 312, they didn’t get into the Saracens 22 until the 60th minute. Saracens started with an early try from Alex Lewington, he pounced on a perfect grubber kick from Elliot Daly, who can’t seem to put a foot wrong at the moment. The conversion missed but Saracens had 5 on the board.

That ‘boring Saracens’ label has surely gone now, but they can score through the forward too and they did just that as Kapeli Pifeleti, starting in Jamie George’s absence picked from the back of a ruck, he must’ve surprised the Falcons defenders as he went over with some ease. The conversion was good this time and with 9 minutes on the board Saracens had a 10 point lead.

Saracens centre pairing of Alex Lozowski and Nick Tompkins impressed against Tigers, negating their midfield, 2 men who aren’t physically big they bight punch above their weight, Lozowski was next to score for Saracens, benefiting from a pass from Daly, via Callum Hunter-Hill. Farrell added the extras taking Saracens to 19, 24 minutes in.

Adam Radwan showed he’s more than speed as Alex Lewington looked like he’d score the bonus point try, Ivan van Zyl had broken to put Lewington into a good position, but Radwan put in a great tackle, giving the home fans something to shout about.

But that bonus try did come with 10 minutes of the half remaining, Billy Vunipola did BV things and he carried the ball to the line after another penalty had resulted in a line out for Saracens, the ball was passed out to Max Malins on the wing, he went over to score the 4th try. The teams went in with the score on Newcastle 0 Saracens 26. By way of interest both teams conceded 11 penalties during the game and while I’m talking stats the missed tackles count doesn’t make good reading for the Newcastle defence coach. They missed 28 to Saracens 14, work to be done during the week there.

On to the second half, and while drinking tea and chatting charity work I missed a Saracens disallowed try, I think I’d have liked to miss the red card incident too! Mako Vunipola went into a ruck with his shoulder, a really dangerous piece of play. it was a nailed on red card. Saracens went down to 14 with 30 minutes of the game remaining. That was MV’s first red card of his career, which should help with the length of any ban, he should get an automatic 50% reduction.

A first red card of his career for Mako Vunipola

In spite of being one man down Saracens scored their 5th try 3 minutes later, Elliot Daly combined with Ben Earl this time, with Max Malins again taking the final ball to score. Malins finished as the top try scorer last year, the way he’s started he may well end upon top of the pile again,

One Vunipola off the pitch meant another had to depart as soon as there was a scrum, that left Saracens without BV for the last 20 m minutes of the game. Newcastle were able to to take advantage of the extra man, replacement Hooker Jamie Blamire scored a good try as he had a straight run to the try line, the conversion from Tian Schoeman was good.

We did get a chance to see Matteo Carreras’ speed with 70 minutes on the clock, he picked up a ball from the back of a scruffy line out and sped over the liner, under the posts. Schoeman converted and the home team had 14 points. Owen Farrell elected to take a simple penalty with 7 minutes remaining, taking all of the allowed time to run the clock down.

Carreras looked to have had the last word with a second try, but he touched down as the ball was just over the line. With the match having gone past the 80 minutes Saracens elected to run the ball rather than kick the ball into touch, an odd choice. Farrell gave away a penalty and with the benefit of ref link I knew Wayne Barnes was blowing for a penalty, not so the little lad who staged a solo pitch invasion, that’s a moment he won’t forget!

Saracens did regain possession and this time it was kicked out, the final score was Newcastle Falcons 14 Saracens 34. Saracens play Bath at home next weekend and Newcastle play Northampton Saints away. Hopefully the Falcons will fare better at Franklin’s Gardens, they’re a very likeable club.

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