NewsCO.com.au – Premiership: Newcastle Falcons 7-29 Saracens

September 17, 2017

Wales wing Liam Williams was one of five British and Irish Lions to make their first starts for Saracens this season
Aviva Premiership
Newcastle (7) 7
Try: Goneva Con: Takulua
Saracens (13) 29
Try: Wyles, Penalty Con: Farrell Pens: Farrell 5

Saracens inflicted a first defeat of the season on Newcastle as they claimed victory in the second Premiership game to be staged in the United States.

Wing Chris Wyles scored in the corner to give Sarries an early lead in his homeland at a sparsely populated Talen Energy Stadium, in Philadelphia.

Vereniki Goneva grabbed a breakaway try to level the scores.

Five Owen Farrell penalties eased Saracens clear before Goneva conceded a late penalty try to complete their win.

Newcastle started the season with back-to-back wins over Worcester and Sale but found themselves up against a Saracens side reinforced by British and Irish Lions Farrell, Jamie George, Liam Williams plus Mako and Billy Vunipola all making their first starts of the campaign.

But that failed to capture the imagination of the American public, with banks of empty seats at the 18,500-capacity stadium.

It was a similar story for the Premiership’s last visit to the US when Saracens beat London Irish 26-16 in March 2016 in front of a crowd of 14,800 at the 25,000-capacity Red Bull Arena, in New Jersey.

There were swathes of empty seats in evidence at the Talen Energy Stadium, in Philadephia

However, Saracens’ added quality told when they spread the ball wide after winning their line-out to send US international Wyles in for an early score.

The reigning European champions were pressing for a second try when George spilled a pass from Farrell and Mark Wilson picked up the loose ball to race away before sending in Goneva for a classic breakaway score.

Two Farrell penalties gave Saracens a 13-7 lead at the break and they pinned Newcastle back in the second half.

The Falcons defended resolutely but, as the penalty count mounted, Farrell made them pay by kicking Saracens well clear.

With time running out, Goneva was penalised for a deliberate knock-on near his own line but Saracens were unable to score again as they coasted to a victory which lifted them above Wasps, who host Harlequins on Sunday, to second in the early table.

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards: “There was a lot of endeavour but we lacked a bit of accuracy at times and I don’t think we got the rub of the green from the referee.

“You look at some of the Saracens boys who seem to be able to get away with a lot more than we do and that’s just purely down to who they are and where they are.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall: “The players have said that it felt like wet weather rugby. The humidity meant the ball was incredibly greasy, there were so many errors on both sides.

“Overall we’re pleased and frustrated at the same time because I think we dominated the game and controlled field position against a very good team and I thought they defended incredibly well.”

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley; Sinoti, Harris, Matavesi, Goneva; Hodgson, Takulua; Vickers, Lawson, Welsh, Green, Robinson, Wilson, Welch (capt), Latu.

Replacements: S Socino, Mavinga, Davison, Witty, Hogg, Stuart, J Socino, Agulla.

Sin-bin: Goneva (75)

Saracens: Goode; Williams, Bosch, Barritt (capt), Wyles; Farrell, Spencer; M Vunipola, George, Figallo, Isiekwe, Itoje, Rhodes, Burger, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Tolofua, Thompson-Stringer, Longbottom, Day, Wray, Wigglesworth, Tomkins, Maitland.

Ref: JP Doyle

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