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Newcastle Falcons 23 Saracens 25

27 Dec 2014
Newcastle Falcons 23 Saracens 25

Two late tries from replacement Chris Harris were not enough to earn Newcastle Falcons a last-gasp draw at home to Saracens, as Juan Pablo Socino’s conversion miss handed the visitors a 25-23 victory.

Neil de Kock’s first-half score helped Saracens to a 10-6 lead, Socino’s boot keeping the Falcons in touch at Kingston Park.

Sinoti Sinoti’s try briefly put Newcastle ahead, but two five-metre lineouts brought two scores for Nick Tompkins and then Chris Ashton.

And despite Harris crashing over twice inside the final five minutes, Socino could not find the target from the touchline to level the score with the last kick of the game.

Falcons began the brighter side, making good ground off a sixth minute scrum to win an early penalty, which Juan Pablo Socino stuck through off the right upright to give Newcastle a 3-0 lead.

And Alesana Tuilagi thought he had given the hosts the perfect start two minutes later, intercepting Goode’s pass on his own 10-metre line and running the length of the field before finishing well in the corner.

But the try was ruled out by the TMO, as the big winger was ruled to have stepped over the white line and into touch as he shrugged off Charlie Hodgson.

The decision seemed to revitalise a lacklustre Saracens, who were determined to play territory in the opening 20 minutes with Hodgson putting the Falcons back three under pressure from the boot.

Owen Farrell elected to go for the corner rather than the posts on 18 minutes, but with the line at Saracens’ mercy and a 5-metre driving maul beckoning, Kane Thompson got his hands on the ball to break up the line-out.

Saracens were now moving through the gears and after building the phases created the first try of the game on 21 minutes.

A brilliant show-and-go from Farrell on the left wing allowed him to beat his man and offload to Chris Wyles who was brought down at the line, but Neil de Kock was on hand to scamper over and complete a great flowing move.

Farrell effortlessly added the extras from the touchline to make it 7-3, but missed a chance to extend the visitors’ lead on 29 minutes, pulling a penalty to the left of the posts after Ally Hogg had collapsed a maul.

Socino was on target to bring Newcastle back within a point when Saracens were offside on 36 minutes, but with the clock ticking down Josh Furno was penalised at the other end for not rolling away.

This time Farrell made no mistake, putting his kick straight through the posts to make it 10-6 at half-time.

Newcastle made another great start after the interval, pouncing on a Saracens handling error on 42 minutes to take the lead.

Tom Catterick hacked the loose ball up the field, before Sinoti Sinoti won the footrace and shepherded the ball over the line for his fifth Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season.

Saracens turned the screws on the Newcastle scrum in midfield, putting big pressure on the pack and winning a penalty which Farrell once again put into the corner.

And this time the lineout drive came good, giving Nick Tompkins some room to batter his way over the line next to the posts to give Saracens the lead again with 24 minutes remaining.

With the game poised for a grandstand finish another Farrell penalty gave Saracens the initiative and a seven-point lead on 63 minutes, before Socino missed his first kick of the afternoon two minutes later, his effort from long range falling short.

And Saracens looked to have done enough with ten minutes left, Chris Ashton touching down easily from another 5-metre lineout drive to give the visitors a two score cushion.

But Newcastle were not down and out as Harris scooped up a loose ball and drove over the line following another Sinoti break, and somehow went over again with the last play of the game with a sublime finish from a quickly taken Falcons penalty.

But Socino missed both conversions which proved costly for the home side, Saracens scraping through 25-23 to go back to third in the Aviva Premiership Rugby.

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