Rodney Ah You carries into the Saracens defence

Falcons A 14 Saracens Storm 55

Monday 13 May 2019

Newcastle Falcons’ A-Team did not make home advantage count during Monday night’s Premiership Rugby Shield final as European champions Saracens hoisted silverware on Tyneside for the second time in three days.

Saracens showed no Champions Cup final hangover after their festivities at St James’ Park, storming into a first-minute lead when scrum-half Tom Whiteley collected an offload from No 8 Sione Vailanu right next to the posts to dive over.

Fly-half Manu Vunipola added the simple conversion, and they doubled their lead on five minutes when a similarly-slick series of offloads culminated in lock Joel Kpoku scoring between the sticks, Vunipola again converting.

A third Sarries line-break threatened another try when Rotimi Segun burst down the right-hand side, Newcastle’s scramble defence bailing them out during a difficult opening spell in which they had little possession in the opposition half.

It proved to be only a temporary reprieve, a series of close-range rucks near the Falcons’ line seeing the ball flung wide right for replacement Watson to cross for another converted try and a 21-point deficit.

The Falcons grew into the half and gradually began to find some field position, winning a succession of penalties in the 22, firstly a quick tap from Sam Stuart which was pulled back by referee Richard Haughton, and secondly a driving maul which was held up over the try-line.

The home side finally registered the score that their pressure merited on 31 minutes, Ben Stevenson’s arcing run and inside ball on the 22 freeing the supporting Jamie Blamire to score between the uprights, Brett Connon converting.

Further line-breaks from Bettencourt and Swiel failed to add further points as a supporting runner could not be found, the half-time whistle arriving with Newcastle trailing 21-7.

Saracens added another five to that during the early exchanges of the second half when the supporting Segun sped into the right corner, collecting an offload after a series of physical challenges near the Falcons’ 22.

A catch-and-drive in the right corner delivered the Londoners’ fifth try shortly after when Tom Griffiths was shunted over, and scrum-half Tom Whiteley sniped in for number six when a close-range ruck down the right provided a suitable launch-pad for a converted score.

Newcastle kept plugging away and finally found a second try on 66 minutes when a midfield line-break from Santiago Socino and a long, looping pass from Connon freed Glen Young for a run-in to the right corner, Connon adding the conversion.

Segun crossed for his second in the right corner as Saracens resumed their dominance on 69 minutes, full-back Matt Gallagher profiting from a cruel bounce to score their next five-pointer when a cross-kick to Stevenson fell into his lap, Watson rounding off the rout with a last-minute try down the left.

Newcastle Falcons A: 15 Tim Swiel, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pedro Bettencourt, 11 Josh Hodge, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart (captain); 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Kyle Cooper, 3 Rodney Ah You, 4 Glen Young, 19 Will Witty, 6 Jamie Blamire, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Simon Uzokwe.

Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Oscar Caudle, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Rob Farrar, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Tom Marshall, 23 Joel Matavesi.

Falcons scorers - Tries: Jamie Blamire, Glen Young. Conversions: Brett Connon 2.

Saracens Storm: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 13 Dom Morris, 12 Tom Griffiths, 11 Rotimi Segun, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Tom Whiteley; 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 3 Christian Judge, 4 Dom Day, 5 Joel Kpoku, 6 Andy Christie, 7 Ben Earl, 8 Sione Vailanu.

Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Sam Crean, 18 Billy Walker, 19 Cameron Boon, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Charlie Watson, 23 Reuben Bird-Tulloch.

Saracens scorers - Tries: Tom Whiteley, Joel Kpoku, Charlie Watson 2, Rotimi Segun 2, Tom Griffiths, Tom Whiteley, Matt Gallagher. Conversions: Manu Vunipola 5.

Referee: Richard Haughton

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