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NEWCASTLE 10 SAINTS 35 Mallinder hails first season starters

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Kahn Fotuali’i and Ben Foden were two experienced players who stepped up from the bench, the latter making the most of the fast pitch and balmy conditions to run the ball regularly, with the Samoan having a direct hand in two of the Saints’ four tries.

But it was Will Hooley and Jon Fisher who particularly caught the eye of the director of rugby. Hooley ran the show from fly half, the 20-year-old scoring the first try with just three minutes on the clock and kicking a further 13 points.

And Fisher dovetailed superbly with Samu Manoa and Calum Clark in the back row after coming in as a late replacement for Tom Wood to make his first start for his new club.

“It shows we’ve got some good strength in depth and players who are keen to play,” Mallinder told SaintsTV. “They were making their first starts of the season and they all played well. It’s a long season, we need quality players, and I’m delighted for the experienced lads to get a game and play well, and I’m delighted for Will Hooley.

“Playing at 10 is difficult, orchestrating the team and pulling the forward and backs together, and I thought he did really well today. Jon Fisher had a good game. Some of his carrying was magnificent, helping us to get on the front foot.

“What we look to do is take the pressure off players, and with someone like Will the rest of the players need to step up as well. Kahn Fotuali’i needed to be making good decisions at scrum-half and the outside backs needed to feed information in. If you can get that then it helps your 10 fit into the plan a lot easier.”

Having scored 28 points in the opening half-hour, with Alex Waller and Ken Pisi following Hooleyt over the whitewash, Saints struggled to get the other seven that made up their 35-point total.

But to focus on that would be doing Newcastle a disservice. The Falcons refused to fold, indeed dominating possession throughout the game and territory in the third quarter. But Saints’ defence held, conceding just the one score with 11 minutes to play, and when the visitors managed to get their phase play going again in the final passages it yielded the fourth try, finished by George North.

And Mallinder acknowledged that had the Lion not crossed for his fourth of the season the squad would have headed home feeling disappointed.

“Bonus points are good and important,” he added. “But away from home you first of all want to get the win. However when you score three tries in the first half you have the bonus point at the back of your mind, and had we not got the fourth try we’d have been disappointed.

“We managed to stick to the plan, worked our way into the 22 and scored a good try going through the phases, which makes the journey home a lot sweeter.”

You can re-live the action from Kingston Park at www.saintslive.co.uk

Saints are back in action on Saturday, September 27th when they host Bath in an Aviva Premiership top four clash at Franklin’s Gardens. Kick off is 3:15pm and tickets remain on sale 24/7 by CLICKING HERE and following the straightforward instructions!

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