May 01, 2016
Report: Saracens secure top spot with in comeback win over Falcons
Saracens booked themselves a home Aviva Premiership semi-final with a hard-fought 23-14 victory over Newcastle Falcons.
A first half double from former Saracen Marcus Watson gave the visitors a 3-14 lead at the half, Saracens only reply coming from the boot of Charlie Hodgson.
Two tries from number 8 Jackson Wray put Saracens back in contention after the break before Maro Itoje crossed to seal the victory for the North London club.
Newcastle started the brighter of the two sides, getting held up over the line after just six minutes, Sarries regaining their composure to win the free kick at the resulting scrum, relieving the pressure.
It took 18 minutes for the first points of the game to appear, coming in the end from the ever-reliable boot of Hodgson after a period of pressure from his side inside the Newcastle 22.
Their lead was short lived however with Watson crossing in the corner against his former club just two minutes later, just rewards for the positive start to the game made by the Falcons and taking the scoreboard to 3-7.
The away side continued to crank up the pressure on Saracens and their persistence paid off once again. Taione Vea was denied by the TMO from close range before Watson crossed for his second following a beautiful grubber from fly-half Craig Willis, the conversion sending Saracens into the break with their backs against the wall at 3-14 down.
Saracens hit back eight minutes into the second half, Jackson Wray capitalising at the back of a powerful rolling maul from the home side, Hodgson unable to add the extras from out wide, reducing the deficit to six.
After 54 minutes, attentions turned away from the rugby as Allianz Park rose to their feet and applauded club legend Jacques Burger as he left the field for the final time, a fitting tribute to a man who has given so much to the club during his time.
Moments later, Saracens got themselves ahead for the first time in the match as Jackson Wray crossed for his second, Saracens asserting their dominance in the rolling maul with another powerful drive.
A further penalty from the boot of Hodgson took the score to 18-14 entering the final quarter but it wasn’t long before the lead was further extended.
The Saracens rolling maul continued as their most potent weapon, pushing the Falcons eight backwards, Maro Itoje the man to this time finish off the forward effort.
Saracens continued to chase the bonus point and attack their opponents as the game drew to a close but the Newcastle defence held firm, Saracens having to settle for the four point victory, booking themselves a date back at Allianz Park in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals in the process.
15 Ben Ransom; 14 Chris Ashton; 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Brad Barritt (c) 11 Chris Wyles; 10 Charlie Hodgson; 9 Neil De Kock; 1 Richard Barrington; 2 Jared Saunders; 3 Titi Lamositele; 4 Maro Itoje; 5 Jim Hamilton; 6 Michael Rhodes; 7 Jacques Burger; 8 Jackson Wray.
Replacements 16 Schalk Brits; 17 Mako Vunipola; 18 Juan Figallo; 19 Hayden Smith; 20 Kelly Brown; 21 Richard Wigglesworth; 22 Nils Mordt; 23 Nick Tompkins
Replacements used Brits for Saunders(56); M.Vunipola for Barrington (41); Figallo for Lamositele (41); Smith for Hamilton (69); Brown for Burger (53); Spencer for Wigglesworth (56); Mordt for Hodgson (77); Tompkins for Barritt (74):
Scores Tries Wray x2; Itoje:
Penalties Hodgson x 2:
15 Simon Hammersley; 14 Alex Tait; 13 Chris Harris; 12 Adam Powell; 11 Marcus Watson; 10 Craig Willis; 9 Michael Young; 1 Rob Vickers; 2 George McGuigan; 3 Taione Vea; 4 Mouritz Botha; 5 Sean Robinson; 6 Will Welch(c); 7 Dan Temm; 8 Mark Wilson:
Replacements 16 Rob Hawkins; 17 Alex Rogers; 18 Andrew Foster; 19 Calum Green; 20 Richard Mayhew; 21 Ruki Tipuna; 22 Tom Catterick; 23 Tom Penny
Replacements used Hawkins for McGuigan (71); Rogers for Vickers (67); Foster for Vea (37-40 & 55-65); Green for Robinson (37); Mayhew for Botha (63); Tipuna for Young (69); Catterick for Willis (69); Penny for Powell (71):
Scores Tries Watson x 2:
Cons Willis x 2:
Man of the Match Jackson Wray