Sep 02, 2018
Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 21-32 Saracens
Alex Lewington scored twice on his Saracens debut in a 32-21 opening round win over Newcastle Falcons in the Gallagher Premiership.
The ex-London Irish man rounded off a first-half of 26 points which began with two penalties from home fly-half Toby Flood.
His opposite man Owen Farrell dissected the posts to cut the deficit before Jamie George squeezed over in the corner to put the visitors ahead.
Flood struck again from the tee and a strong Sarries defensive effort was rewarded when Lewington trotted in on the stroke of half-time.
Flanker Mark Wilson grabbed two either side of Lewington’s second to make it a nervy end to the contest, but Nick Tompkins’ try ensured victory on the road for the Wolfpack.
Mark McCall’s side were dealt a selected blow prior to kick-off. Ben Spencer was withdrawn due to illness with Richard Wigglesworth stepping in at nine on a muggy afternoon at Kingston Park.
Roared on by a vociferous home crowd, Newcastle put it up their jumper early on with several hard carries which presented the opportunity for two early strikes at goal for Flood who delivered six points without hesitation.
Farrell responded with a penalty of his own and soon after the visitors sprung into life to punish the Falcons.
Outside centre Alex Lozowski was fortunate to see the ball pop into his hands after a strong Will Skelton run and when his 30-metre sprint was halted, Sarries were quick to recycle to the right wing and a beautiful one-two between George and David Strettle saw the former barge his way over.
Then came some controversy. Farrell’s drop kick faded wide of the left post and it looked as though Vereniki Goneva had tapped down for a 22, but the Fijian sneakily placed the ball on his foot and sprinted the length of the field for what he believed to be a five-pointer. However, the dummy fooled referee Ian Tempest too who had already blown for the drop.
A real battle in the contact area followed. Newcastle pressed for a try but had to settle for three points from Flood and it was Saracens who ended the first period on top.
Lozowski carved through Falcons’ D and his soft pop to an onrushing Farrell allowed the fly-half to proceed on a gallop. Lewington drifted in from his wing and was perfectly placed to receive a pass and have a free route to under the posts.
The Men in Black continued their momentum early into the second half and a cheeky box-kick from Wigglesworth almost saw Lozowski cross but for a dodgy bounce.
Newcastle rallied thereafter and after Strettle and Brad Barritt (who later returned) joined Sean Maitland injured on the sidelines, Wilson showed great awareness to pick and go through a gap in the ruck and trundle in.
But Saracens’ reply was perfect. Nick Isiewke’s charge down forced Flood into a short clearance and from the resulting line-out, Farrell received the ball and his miss pass went straight into Lewington’s bread basket and he made no mistake from close range.
Replacement Tompkins was sent to the bin for leading with his forearm into contact and Alex Goode saw yellow too 10 minutes from the end and with the away team down to 13, Falcons scored.
Instead of a free shot in front of the sticks, Flood booted to the corner and Wilson profited from a fast-moving driving maul.
Flood added the extras to make it 22-21 heading into the closing stages but Saracens managed another to seal five points.
George’s surge down the middle almost saw him squeeze in at the right-hand post but after he was thwarted, Barritt showed great agility to flick the ball to Tompkins in the tackle and the centre delightfully finished the move off before Farrell kicked a further five points.
Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Radwan (Tait 61), Flood (Hodgson 71), Takulua; Mavinga, McGuigan (Socino 71), Mulipola (Payne 77), Green, Witty (Cavubati 62), Wilson, Welch, Chick. Replacements: Socino, Brocklebank, Payne, Cavubati, Graham, Stuart, Hodgson, Tait.
Tries: Wilson 56, 71
Penalties: Flood (3)
Saracens: Goode, Strettle (Tompkins 41), Lozowski, Barritt (Whiteley 53-64), Maitland (Lewington 25), Farrell, Wigglesworth; M.Vunipola (Barrington 52), George (Tolofua 78), Koch (Figallo 52-67), Itoje, Skelton (Isiekwe 52), Rhodes (Vailanu 63), Earl.,Wray. Replacements: Tolofua, Barrington, Figallo, Isiekwe, Vailanu, Whiteley, Tompkins, Lewington.
Tries: George 15, Lewington 40, 61, Tompkins 76
Conversions: Farrell (3)
Penalties: Farrell (2)
Sin Bins: Tompkins 63, Goode 71
Man of the Match: Will Skelton