Falcons pushed Saints all the way before a last minute chase from Rory Hutchinson gave Saints the win they needed over Newcastle Falcons to start their Anglo Welsh campaign in the best way.
Tries at the end of each half for Tom Collins and Hutchinson and Sam Olver’s on-target boot gave the five Saints debutants, Lewis Ludlam, James Fish, Matt Beesley, Alex Moon and Devante Onojaife, their dream first appearance for the club.
Saints began their opening efforts in the Anglo-Welsh Cup with vigour and a run from Howard Packman got them close from the off. It was to be the home side that got on the scoreboard first, however, after Mike Delany converted a penalty three minutes in.
Sam Olver returned his opposites efforts however and sent a penalty of his own through moments later to level things.
Newcastle began an attack and a break from centre Fred Burdon got them within Saints’ 22 but Saints regained possession and cleared the ball away from the threat.
Saints continued to push their hosts and Olver set up for a drop goal attempt on the 22-minute mark but sent his nudge just wide. The fly-half had another shot at the sticks a moment later but this one, too, did not go through. Instead the ball came off the right upright and back into play and though Newcastle looked to counter they knocked the ball on before they could.
Olver did not have to wait long to redeem himself however and split the uprights with a penalty on 27 minutes to give Saints a three point lead.
Saints began to push their hosts at the first half drew to a close and eventually a gap opened up in the Newcastle defence. James Wilson stepped inside his opposite man, Newcastle’s skipper Alex Tait, and offloaded to Luther Burrell. The centre made his way up to the 22 with Tom Collins in support. Burrell sent the ball to the winger and Collins sped under the posts for the score. Olver added the extras to sent the game into half-time at 6-13.
Newcastle came out from half-time immediately on the attack. Sinoti Sinoti broke Saints’ line after the home side had pushed their way into the 22 and Burdon thought he was over before the referee, Greg McDonald, called the game back for a knock on.
The home side kept their pressure up and secured Delany a shot at the posts on 56 minutes. The Newcastle fly-half sent the kick through to close the gap to just one score.
Olver returned Delany’s efforts once again, however, and sent a penalty of his own through the uprights just after.
Quick thinking from Newcastle got them their next score. After good pressure from the home side got them well within Saints’ 22, Tait was the grateful receiver of a quick tap penalty and got over the whitewash. Delany converted to bring the game within three.
Newcastle pushed on once again and looked dangerous in attack as Sinoti got them close once again. The home side were camped on the Saints line but good defence from the men in black, green and gold pushed the Falcons back.
As the home side were forced to box kick, Jamie Gibson charged the kick and incredible control from the feet of Luther Burrell and Jamie Elliot got the ball back up the pitch in a backs running frenzy. Elliot was close but it was to be Hutchinson that got a hand to the ball before it went dead. Olver sent his conversion just wide of the left upright but Saints had done enough and ended their first Anglo-Welsh Cup game with a 24-16 away win at Kingston Park.
FALCONS Tait; Watson, Burdon, Willis, Sinoti, Delany, M Young; Lockwood, Sowrey, Wilson, Witty, Davidson, Hogg, Holmes, Chick
Subs – Lawson, Vickers, Welsh, G Young, Chisanga, Egerton, Hodgson, Marshall
SAINTS Wilson; Packman, Burrell, Hutchinson, Collins, Olver, Kessell; Waller, Clare, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, J Onojaife, Gibson, Ludlam
Subs – Fish, Beesley, Denman, Moon, D Onojaife, Dickson, Estelles, Elliott
3mins SAINTS Pen Olver 0-3
7mins FALCONS Pen Delany 3-3
23mins SAINTS Miss Pen Olver 3-3
27mins SAINTS Pen Olver 3-6
38mins SAINTS Try Collins Con Olver 3-13
40mins FALCONS Pen Delany 6-13
HALF-TIME Falcons 6 Saints 13
43mins SAINTS Pen Olver 6-16
56mins FALCONS Pen Delany 9-16
62mins SAINTS Pen Olver 9-19
70mins FALCONS Try Tait Con Delany 16-19
77mins SAINTS Try Hutchinson 16-24
FULL TIME Falcons 16 Saints 24