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Match Reaction: Newcastle Falcons 16 Northampton Saints 24

Northampton Saints debutant Lewis Ludlam admitted the experience of some of the side’s more senior players was what hauled them over the line at Newcastle Falcons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Tries either side of half-time from Tom Collins and Rory Hutchinson were enough for the Saints, with fly-half Sam Olver also notching up 14 points from the tee to secure a 24-16 triumph.

Mike Delany had kept Falcons in touch with three penalties, before skipper Alex Tait rumbled over with ten minutes remaining to give the hosts a chance.

Northampton rallied however with Hutchinson’s breakaway try, and Ludlam believes the influence of experienced lock Christian Day – who was tasked with captaining a mostly youthful Saints side – was pivotal.

“It’s a fantastic win and that’s down to the senior members of the squad – you’ve got the likes of Christian Day in there, who’s a great leader,” he said.

“When you’ve got someone on the pitch like that, it’s easy to follow and it showed in our performance.

“He just told everyone ‘relax, calm down, these are our jobs, this is what we’re going to do next, it’s about keeping cool heads on the pitch’ and I think that showed at the end.

“It’s a really tough place to come and we knew that when we came up here. We’re only the second [away] team to win here this season, so we knew we had to put a performance in and I think it paid off today.

“Obviously I’ve been waiting for this moment for a few years, coming through the Academy. We know that the Anglo-Welsh Cup is where we’re going to get our opportunities and I was really excited to be out there.

“You’ve got the likes of Harry Mallinder in the same year as me, Rory (Hutchinson) has played in the last few weeks and it’s setting a great example for the Academy.”

Despite their late rally, Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards was visibly frustrated after the game, stating that first-half errors had cost his side.

But he was able to see the positives with several Falcons players also making their senior debuts at Kingston Park.

Richards said: “It was a disappointing day. We probably played a little bit too much rugby, considering the conditions.

“Northampton played a lot less rugby, put the ball down the field and applied the pressure on us. We tried to play our way out a bit too much, and that was the sum total of it.

“There were still some good bits to come out of the game. Guys like Andrew Davidson, Tyrone Holmes and Josh Chisanga made their debuts for us.

“They acquitted themselves well, but from a team point of view we were disappointed.

“More than anything, we couldn’t get our first phase sorted. Our line-out didn’t function in the first half, and every time we did have the ball we lost possession.

“When we got some sort of continuity we had line-break after line-break, but even then we couldn’t convert them. It was pretty much the story of our season.”

Newcastle Falcons: Tait, Watson, Burdon, Willis (Hodgson 62), Sinoti, Delany, Young (Egerton 57); Lockwood (Vickers 49), Sowrey (Lawson 49), Wilson (Welsh 49), Witty, Davidson (Young 64), Hogg, Holmes (Chisanga 57), Chick

Northampton Saints: Wilson, Packman (Elliott 57), Burrell, Hutchinson, Collins, Olver, Kessell (Dickson 62); Waller (Beesley 62), Clare (Fish 66), Hill (Denman 62), Ratuniyarawa, Day, Onojaife, Gibson, Ludlam

Newcastle Falcons 16
Tries: Tait
Conversions: Delany
Penalties: Delany 3

Northampton Saints 24
Tries: Collins, Hutchinson
Conversions: Olver
Penalties: Olver 4

Referee: Greg McDonald
Attendance: 4,257

The Anglo-Welsh Cup kicks off this weekend and for all the fixtures and details of the Final at the Twickenham Stoop on 19 March see www.new-heroes.com

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