Fixtures - Top Bar

Match Reaction: Saracens 23 Newcastle Falcons 14

Mark McCall believes experience was the key to Saracens coming from behind to beat Newcastle Falcons 23-14 – securing an Aviva Premiership Rugby home play-off semi-final in the process.

Newcastle had gone into half-time 14-3 ahead on Sunday afternoon thanks to Marcus Watson’s brace, but two scores from Jackson Wray and another by Maro Itoje ensured Sarries will finish the regular season top of the table for the third time in four years.

It was an emotional afternoon at Allianz Park as Saracens’ fans said goodbye to flanker Jacques Burger following his last match before retirement, and Newcastle cemented their Aviva Premiership Rugby status with a week to spare.

And director of rugby McCall believes a break for his squad during the week paid dividends, as they returned from a group trip to Europe in style.

“I think we weren’t able to play the way we wanted to during the first half,” he said. “There are a few reasons for it. Obviously, last week took a lot out of us. Crucially we also didn’t train a lot this week.

“A lot of the players went to Europe for two or three days and had a phenomenal time and I think we showed our experience in the second half to turn the situation around; that’s the important thing.

“Where we were at the end of the match is a sign of the experience that we’ve got. We were able to fall back on some good fundamentals that we’ve had for a long time.”

On the club-organised trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia, McCall added: “We probably won’t do it before the Champions Cup final though!

“For us, our season will finish after the Premiership semi-final or the final. It’s been twenty straight weeks and we knew we needed to do something different and we needed to freshen it up.”

Newcastle’s 13-6 victory over London Irish two weeks ago put them in the driving seat in the race to avoid bottom spot in the Aviva Premiership.

And Irish’s 32-25 loss to Harlequins on Sunday afternoon meant Falcons were guaranteed a place in the Aviva Premiership next season even in defeat.

When asked if he was relieved, director of rugby Dean Richards replied: “Yes I suppose but at the end of the day, all along we’ve been looking at our performance.

“We had a torrid time in the autumn with 20-odd injuries and the young guys away and we didn’t get a win until Christmas until we started to get our boys back. But by then you’re right down at the bottom of the table.

“Since then, it’s been a lot better and that’s the frustrating thing. Had we started it off with the form like in the second half of the season then we’d have been nowhere near the bottom.

“The boys are desperate to go out there and play well and string good performances together. We did it in one half today and second half we weren’t quite so good, so next week hopefully we’ll put together two halves.” 

Saracens: Ransom, Ashton, Bosch, Barritt (Tompkins 72), Wyles, Hodgson (Mordt 76), Wigglesworth (Spencer 56); Barrington (Vunipola HT), Saunders (Brits 56), Lamositele (Figallo HT), Itoje, Hamilton (Smith 72), Rhodes, Burger (Brown 53), Wray.

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Tait (Penny 72), Harris, Powell, Watson, Willis (Catterick 71), Young (Tipuna 71); Vickers (Rogers 67), McGuigan (Hawkins 72), Vea, Botha (Mayhew 63), Robinson (Green 36), Welch, Temm, Wilson.
Replacements not used: Foster

Saracens
Tries: Wray 2, Itoje
Conversion: Hodgson
Penalties: Hodgson 2

Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Watson 2
Conversions: Willis 2

Referee: Ian Tempest
Attendance: 9,744

Watch England's finest at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May from only £30 for adults & £15 for children. Click here for tickets

Latest News

Dino Lamb replaces Will Evans in England U20 World Championship squad

Leicester Tigers flanker Will Evans has been ruled out of the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia due to…

Final Preview: Wasps v Exeter Chiefs

This is Wasps fifth appearance in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final, winning all four previous attempts, in 2003, 2004, 2005…

Wasps v Exeter Chiefs

‘Emotional’ Tom Catterick will always be a Newcastle Falcons fan

Tom Catterick insists he will always be a Newcastle Falcons fan despite this week retiring from professional rugby at the…

Tom Catterick

‘Let’s finish the job’ – Gareth Steenson

Gareth Steenson insists Exeter Chiefs are a much different outfit to that of 12 months ago as they gear up…

Gareth Steenson

Win a Citizen Watch and a ball signed by this year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby champions

Celebrating being the Official Timekeeper of Premiership Rugby, Citizen are offering you the chance to win a Citizen Watch up…

England squad gather ahead of Barbarians test

Twenty nine players have assembled in Pennyhill Park today ahead of England’s match against the Barbarians next Sunday (28th May)…

Match Reaction: Wasps 21 Leicester Tigers 20

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young believes his side are still growing in what is turning into a special Aviva…

Match Reaction: Exeter Chiefs 18 Saracens 16

Saracens’ dominance in Aviva Premiership Rugby was finally ended by Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, and while they had to do…

Match Reaction: Northampton Saints 21 Connacht 15

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder heaped praise on the defensive resolution of his side as they reached the…

AUDIO: Wasps 21 Leicester Tigers 20 post match reaction

A cracking Premiership semi-final at the Ricoh as midlands neighbours Wasps and Leicester Tigers locked horns. Ian Williams was in…

Match Report: Wasps 21 Leicester Tigers 20

Josh Bassett’s last-gasp score booked Wasps' first Aviva Premiership Rugby Final appearance in nine years after overcoming Leicester Tigers 21-20 in…

Match Report: Northampton Saints 21 Connacht 15

Northampton Saints are just one game away from playing in next season's European Rugby Champions Cup after downing a battling…

Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 18 Saracens 16

Exeter Chiefs stunned defending champions Saracens to book their second straight Aviva Premiership Final appearance in the most dramatic of…

Wasps team to play Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership Semi Final


Dai Young has named his side to take on Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership semi final at the Ricoh…

Ashley Johnson

Leicester Tigers team news for the Aviva Premiership semi-final

Tom Youngs will make his 100th starting appearance for Leicester Tigers on Saturday when he leads the club in their…

Tom Youngs