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Northampton ensure top spot for Six Nations break after beating lowly Newcastle

By PA
Sam Matavesi scores for Saints - PA

Northampton’s bonus-point 38-13 victory over winless Newcastle ensures the Saints will remain top of the Premiership standings heading into the Six Nations break.

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The league leaders, bereft of players through international call-ups, took some time to subdue a battling Newcastle side, who belied their position at the bottom of the table by turning in a spirited performance.

However, the Falcons still ended up defeated once again and have picked up just four points from their 12 league fixtures this season, and remain without an away win since November 2022.

Courtney Lawes, Sam Matavesi, Tom James, Ollie Sleightholme and Juarno Augustus scored tries for Northampton, along with a penalty try, while Charlie Savala added three conversions.

Adam Radwan went over for Newcastle’s solitary try with Louie Johnson kicking two penalties and a conversion.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Northampton
38 - 13
Full-time
Newcastle
All Stats and Data

Rory Hutchinson, selected in an unaccustomed role of full-back, led out Saints on his 150th appearance for the club.

And he was instrumental in creating the first scoring opportunity of the game when he chipped ahead but a flying Sleightholme was unable to secure the touchdown before the ball ran dead.

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Northampton maintained the pressure but Falcons captain Callum Chick relieved it by intercepting a pass before kicking ahead. Saints then infringed under their own posts for Johnson to knock over a simple penalty.

The home response was swift with Lawes finishing off a succession of forward drives before Savala impressively converted from the touchline.

The lively opening continued with an excellent try for Newcastle. From a scrum in the opposition 22, they swiftly moved the ball along the line to provide Radwan with a walk-in.

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Johnson’s conversion gave his side a 10-7 lead at the end of an entertaining first quarter.

Falcons then suffered a double blow with Northampton being awarded a penalty try after Freddie Lockwood, in an off-side position, prevented Sleightholme from scoring with the flanker collecting a yellow card for his troubles.

In Lockwood’s absence, Johnson reduced the arrears with his second penalty but on his return Matavesi crashed over from an unstoppable line-out drive for Saints to lead 19-13 at the interval.

Ten minutes after the restart, the home side scored their bonus-point try when Tom Litchfield’s break sent James on a 20 metre run-in before the industrious Sleightholme got his just deserts by scoring Saints’ fifth try.

Newcastle’s spirit was now crushed and it was cruel on them that Saints should add another try when replacement Augustus used his power to crash over from close range.

In the final minute, Falcons replacement Rory Jennings picked up a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on but the result was long since decided.

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