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Second-half Saints see off fighting Falcons

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

It was far from as straight forward as the scoreline would suggest, a vastly improved second-half seeing the Saints clear before Tom May sealed the bonus point with just two minutes to play.


A couple of sloppy early errors from Dylan Hartley and Ryan Lamb were shrugged off and with Rob VIckers also struggling to hit his man at the lineout, Saints were first on the board thanks to three points from Lamb.


And when another Vickers throw in was stolen the Saints wasted no time in moving the ball wide, George Pisi matching good vision with a sublimely weighted kick that gave the flying Ben Foden the simplest of runs to the line.


The hosts weren't to be deterred and after Jimmy Gopperth opened their account for the afternoon with a crisply struck penalty and after his scything break in midfield they would also level the try count through Saka Hufanga.


That opportunity came courtesy of a turnover but while Newcastle continued to pressurise the visitors into mistakes, a good shove on the Newcastle scrum meant the Saints had another kickable chance and it was one Lamb took with ease to move his side five points clear, despite their obvious frustrations.


The penalty was quickly cancelled out by Gopperth, however, and when Lamb missed a lengthy chance to restore the buffer the teams would turn around separated by just two points, Saints in dire need of some continuity.


Two penalties conceded in the first four minutes of the second-half though certainly weren't helpful, especially when Gopperth clipped the second of the over to give his side the lead for the first time.


It was a short-lived lead however and one that was overturned thanks to a rare Gopperth error. The Kiwi missed touch with a penalty and as the Saints threatened, Lamb spotted a mismatch and slid in Foden who gathered his second through ball of the afternoon and score, Lamb converting.


Kicking in behind seemed to be paying dividends for the Saints and even though Pisi couldn't collect a Lamb chip under the posts, advantage was being played and Soane Tonga'uiha was mauled over unstoppably from the lineout.


Saints were starting to turn the screw with the control they had been lacking in the opening 40 minutes, Vasily Artemyev just fingertips away from the bonus point try, Lamb's boot again creating the chance.


For the second week running it looked as though the bonus would go begging for the Saints but helped by a yellow card for the Falcons' Tim Swinson - not to mention another scrum won against the head - Foden and Artemyev combined inside the 5-metre channel and released May for the line with his very first touch of the ball.


All that was left was to wind down the final minute of the game, Martin Roberts ending a Newcastle attack and a memorable 2011 for the Saints.


TIMELINE

5mins SAINTS Pen Lamb 0-3

9mins SAINTS Try Foden Con Lamb 0-10

15mins FALC Pen Gopperth 3-10

20mins FALC Try Hufanga 8-10

32mins SAINTS Pen Lamb 8-13

37mins FALC Pen Gopperth 11-13

40mins SAINTS Miss pen Lamb

HALF-TIME FALCONS 11 SAINTS 13

44mins FALC Pen Gopperth 14-13

49mins SAINTS Try Foden Con Lamb 14-20

57mins SAINTS Try Tonga'uiha 14-25

67mins FALC Miss pen Gopperth

75mins FALC Yellow Swinson

78mins SAINTS Try May Con Myler 14-32

FULL-TIME FALCONS 14 SAINTS 32