Aviva Premiership: Saracens 25 Newcastle 3
PUBLISHED: 17:08 10 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:08 10 February 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Richard Barrington and Max Malins scored tries as Saracens defeated Newcastle at Allianz Park on Saturday.
The hosts were in control for most of the contest, with their superb defence keeping out the Falcons.
And with Exeter suffering a surprise home loss to Worcester, European champions Sarries closed to within a point of the top of the table.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall made wholesale changes to the side that was easily defeated by the Chiefs in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last weekend.
Will Skelton was the only player to retain his place in the team at lock, with Liam Williams coming into the side on the wing having been released by Wales.
Ben Spencer started at scrum-half after Richard Wigglesworth’s England call-up.
For Newcastle, Juan Pablo Socino came in at inside centre with Alex Tait dropping to the bench to be replaced by Sinoti Sinoti on the wing, and Joel Hodgson replacing Toby Flood at fly-half.
Rob Vickers and Will Witty came into the pack, along with Ryan Burrows who was making his first Aviva Premiership start in the back row.
The first half started fairly evenly, with the teams exchanging early penalties, Spencer slotting over for Sarries in the ninth minute and Hodgson replying for the Falcons two minutes later.
Spencer fired over his second penalty of the game in the 19th minute before the home pack started to dominate.
Sarries scored the first try in the 27th minute with a pick-and-go put-down under the posts by prop Barrington, as Spencer added the extras.
The lead was extended four minutes later when television match official Trevor Fisher adjudged that Williams had been tackled off the ball by Falcons winger Sinoti, attempting to get a hand on Alex Lozowski’s chip through.
Sinoti was sent to the sin-bin but Newcastle rallied and prevented any points from being scored while down to 14.
The match was played in persistent rain and both teams did well to keeping errors to a minimum, with both Saracens’ Alex Goode and Newcastle replacement Tait performing well at full-back under the high ball.
However, it was a handling error that prevented the visitors from scoring a try of their own when back row Nili Latu knocked on five metres from the line after a flowing passing move from right to left.
Malins added a third try five minutes from time – just a minute after coming off the bench – taking full advantage of the weather conditions to slide over the line.