Aviva Premiership: Newcastle 7 Saracens 29
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Saracens returned to winning ways in the Aviva Premiership with victory over Newcastle Falcons in a showcase fixture staged at the Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia, USA.
A try from USA international Chris Wyles and 17 points from fly-half Owen Farrell carried Sarries to the win with a late penalty try, condemning the high-flying Falcons to their first defeat of the season.
The heat and humidity contributed to numerous handling errors that blighted what was the first game of a new four-year agreement between Premiership Rugby and promoters AEG, that is hoped will increase exposure for English rugby’s top division while boosting the profile of the game in the States.
Saracens named a strong line-up that also included recent British & Irish Lions Billy and Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Jamie George as they looked to bounce back from their defeat to Bath at The Rec last time out.
The Falcons, who welcomed back last season’s top try-scorer Vereniki Goneva for what was a ‘home’ fixture, began brightly in testing conditions and in front of an official crowd of 6,271, but they were denied any reward for their efforts.
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Instead it was Saracens who opened the scoring with a superb sweeping move that culminated with full back Alex Goode finding home favourite Wyles whose speed carried him over in the corner.
Farrell added an excellent conversion before Saracens turned the screw with a series of raids spearheaded by Billy Vunipola and Williams but their execution repeatedly let them down at crucial moments.
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Newcastle then scored against the run of play with flanker Mark Wilson latching onto a stray pass and galloping up field before feeding Goneva, who had too much pace for the cover defence.
Scrum-half Sonatane Takulua levelled the scores with another fine conversion but Saracens regained the lead on the half-hour mark through Farrell’s boot after Falcons captain Will Welch was penalised by referee JP Doyle.
Farrell extended his side’s lead just before the break with his second penalty, after centre Brad Barritt was taken out off the ball by Josh Matavesi, and he notched his third early in the second half after the Falcons were guilty of going off their feet.
Indiscipline continued to cost Newcastle as the match wore on with Farrell adding two further penalties to his personal tally.
A raft of replacements injected some much-needed energy into the game and it was Saracens who saw their dominance rewarded with a penalty try when Goneva knocked down what would have been a scoring pass to wing Sean Maitland.