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Saracens battle past Newcastle with a little help from Mike Brown

By PA
Mike Brown /Getty

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Saracens saw off a spirited Newcastle Falcons side to claim a 36-21 bonus point win in the Gallagher Premiership.

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A blistering opening 40 minutes at sunny Kingston Park saw the hosts open the scoring through hooker George McGuigan, who crashed over on five minutes on the back of a rolling maul, with fly-half Will Haydon-Wood adding the extras.

Not to be deterred by Newcastle’s early score, Saracens hit straight back with a score of their own courtesy of hooker Tom Woolstencroft who touched down in similar fashion to McGuigan, with Alex Goode’s conversion tying things up at 7-7.

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After trading blows early on, two penalties from Haydon-Wood saw Newcastle take a 13-7 lead midway through the first half.

But the fly-half’s pinpoint kicking was undone when Falcons full-back Mike Brown was adjudged to have batted dead a grubber ball inside Newcastle’s in-goal area, with referee Ian Tempest awarding the visitors a penalty try and Brown 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

Down to 14, Newcastle did well to stem the bleeding following Brown’s sin-binning and even retook the lead shortly after through Haydon-Wood’s third penalty.

However, before the break, Saracens were awarded a penalty in front of the sticks for an off-ball tackle, with Goode punishing Newcastle’s indiscipline to give the visitors a 17-16 lead at the half.

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After the interval, Saracens scored a second try through full-back Elliott Obatoyinbo, who danced his way past the trailing defence to touch down, with Goode’s conversion splitting the sticks.

Shortly after extending their lead however, Saracens then found themselves on the back foot, with Falcons captain Callum Chick inches away from hitting back for the hosts only to be held up short.

On 53 minutes, Newcastle managed to breach Saracens defence to score their second try through McGuigan, who crossed over again on the back of a rolling maul with Haydon-Wood’s conversion edging just wide to make it a three point game at 24-21.

Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola was left relieved after Tempest deemed his strong tackle on Falcons centre George Wacokecoke a fair challenge, much to the frustration of the home support.

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Heading into the final quarter of action, Saracens scrum-half Aled Davies looked to have sent flanker Jackson Wray off to the races only for Newcastle’s covering defence to force a handling error as the visitors advanced.

With under 10 minutes left to play, Saracens were keen to wrap things up after letting Newcastle hang around for the majority of the second half.

And they managed to put the game to bed late on through winger Rotimi Segun and Goode, with the latter’s try earning Saracens their try bonus point as the contest finished 36-21 to the visitors.

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