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Match Reaction: Northampton Saints 37 Newcastle Falcons 23

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Backs coach Alex King admits Northampton Saints’ youngsters passed their LV= Cup test with flying colours – but he is adamant there is room for improvement.

Flyer Tom Collins was the pick of the up-and-comers with a brace while Mike Haywood, Teimana Harrison and Howard Packman all crossed to wrap up a bonus-point victory.

Newcastle had gone ahead through Tom Catterick's early effort, but lost ground they could not ever catch up to after Alesana Tuilagi’s first-half yellow – during which Saints scored twice.

“It was great for the youngsters and the whole week has been brilliant,” said King.

“We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm with guys playing for the first time on the hallowed turf here and the crowd were brilliant.

“It wasn’t perfect by any means with the start we got but we responded superbly.

“We had some experienced guys out there and they calmed things down. We couldn’t ask for more and we’re delighted for the guys.

“There were a lot of changes but these guys work really hard and this was the reward for the work they put in during the weeks when the international guys are here.

“We talk about playing in our systems every week, whether that’s in defence or attack.

“There are things to work on next week before we go down to Scarlets but I thought the enthusiasm and initiative in the game was spot on.”

In a positive for Dean Richards’ side, Newcastle never knew when to give up and replacement Juan Pablo Socino’s late try cut the deficit down to six.

However, Will Hooley’s penalty followed by a Packman try settled matters, leaving Richards to rue what could have been.

"The speed of the ball from the breakdown caused us a few problems,” he said. "You want people in there competing for the ball but if they don't compete legitimately you want them in the defensive line. 

"Our decision making around that area wasn't particularly good on the day and as such we either allowed them the ball too quickly or didn't have enough people in the backline.

"It's probably our own fault more than anything but they have got some exciting youngsters in their backline.

"The experience our boys have got in the past few weeks has been outstanding for them and if you look at the wins we have got, especially Newport and Exeter, I'm delighted.

"I thought Northampton were there for the taking, and had we stuck to our guns and stuck to our shape we probably could have snuck it.

"But fair play to Northampton, I thought they were the better team on the day.”
 
Saints: Collins; Elliott, Stephenson, Waldouck (Mallinder 60), Packman; Hooley, Hodgson (Fotuali’I 55); Waller (Hobbs-Awoyemi 56), Haywood (McMillan 65), Denman (Mercey 56); Woolford, Day; Dowson, Harrison (Nutley, 51), Fisher
Replacements not used: Onojaife, Skelcey
 
Falcons: Smith (Hammersley 55); Catterick, Barnes, Helleur (Socino 40), Tuilagi A; Clegg, Blair (Davies 62); Vickers (Rogers 67), Hawkins, Wilson (Tomaszczyk 67); Green; Macleod (Robinson 56); Temm, Saull, Kolo’ofai (Barrow 11)
Replacements not used: Irving
 
Northampton Saints 37 Newcastle Falcons 23
 
Northampton Saints
Tries: Collins 2, Harrison, Haywood, Packman
Conversions: Hooley 3
Penalties: Hooley 2
 
Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Catterick, Socino
Conversions: Clegg 2
Penalties: Clegg 3

Referee: Andrew Jackson

Be part of the rugby family at the LV= Cup Final at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton on Sunday 22 March. Visit www.northamptonsaints.co.uk for tickets.

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