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Saracens escape shock home upset against 14-man Newcastle

Greg Peterson of Newcastle Falcons about to get a red card during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Saracens and Newcastle Falcons at StoneX Stadium on February 25, 2023 in Barnet, United Kingdom. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

An early red card for Newcastle’s Greg Peterson ruined any hopes of his side causing an upset as Saracens moved 12 points clear of Sale at the top of the Gallagher Premiership table after a 29-23 home win.


Tenth-placed Newcastle were level at 10-10 when Peterson was dismissed for a high tackle with the table-toppers taking advantage by scoring five tries but it was the visitors who emerged with the most credit with a heroic second-half display.

Alex Lewington scored two of the home side’s tries, Eroni Mawi, Ivan van Zyl and Theo Dan the others with Alex Goode kicking two conversions.

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Philip van der Walt and Adam Radwan scored Newcastle’s tries with Brett Connon adding three penalties and two conversions to leave them just two points ahead of Bath at the bottom of the table.

It took less than two minutes for Saracens to open the scoring. Falcons lost possession on halfway for Dan to make a telling burst before prop, Mawi, brushed aside some weak tackling for his second try in successive games.

Three minutes later, Connon responded with a penalty for Newcastle before they took the lead with a close-range try from Van der Walt.

Saracens were soon level when Matias Orlando missed a tackle on Olly Hartley to put his side’s defence on the back foot and when the ball was recycled a long pass gave Lewington the chance to evade Connon’s weak effort to score.


After 17 minutes, Newcastle suffered a huge blow when their American international lock, Peterson, was red carded for a head-high challenge on Dan.

The hosts soon capitalised when, from a line-out drive, Dan made an initial burst before a long pass from Van Zyl created a second for Lewington.

Goode was again off target with his third conversion attempt before Connon kept Falcons in contention with his second penalty.

Saracens’ bonus-point try arrived when a well-timed pass from Billy Vunipola sent Andy Christie through a gap with Van Zyl on hand to crash over.


The home side soon added a fifth from Dan to have the game almost in the bag by half-time when they led 29-13, leaving their 14-man opponents with a mountain to climb.

After the restart, Newcastle’s woes continued when they lost Orlando to injury but Radwan prevented them from falling further behind with an excellent cover tackle on Ben Earl.

Frequent substitutions disrupted the flow of play, which rendered the first 30 minutes of the second half scoreless, as a huge defensive effort from Newcastle continued to frustrate the hosts.

Remarkably, the only scores after the interval went Falcons’ way as their opponents were caught napping by a quickly-taken short penalty which enabled Radwan to run an unopposed 50 metres to score before Connon secured a deserved bonus point with a last-minute penalty.


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Poorfour 5 hours ago
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