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Saints deny the Falcons at the death

18 Oct 2003
Saints deny the Falcons at the death

The Falcons went into the break at half time with a 10-8 lead with tries from centre Jamie Noon and Marius Hurter, but a late rally from the Saints – courtesy of Shane Drahm's boot and two Nick Beal tries – meant that it was the home side that snatch the victory, and the bonus point.

Fittingly, it was Saints' reliable goal-kicker Drahm who opened the scoring of this pulsating match with a penalty in the very first minute of the match, but from that point to the break it was Newcastle who held the upperhand.

The pressure was converted into points in the 10th minute when Falcons' winger Michael Stephenson found room for a half-break before kicking ahead into the path of the flying Noon. The centre met with the ball on the tryline and slid over to score.

Former Springbok forward Hurter then did what his compatriots failed to do earlier in Perth and crashed over for a try.

Unlike Drahm, Falcons' kicker Ben Gollings had failed to pack his kicking boots and missed both conversions. Those misses would prove costly, as would the try Northampton scrum-half Howard managed to sneak past the hitherto stoic Falcons defence before the break.

Northampton returned to the field in a decidedly different mood and steady pressure allowed for two Drahm penalties.

Not content with merely adding the kicks, the fly-half stole away to score a try of his own that he duly converted, and the Saints were practically out of sight.

Falcon boss Rob Andrew played his joker by fielding the talented England fly-half Dave Walder who was on the bench having recovered from injury.

The ploy worked – for a while at least. Walder cut the deficit with a penalty and then added the conversion to a Vyvyan try.

But it fell to former England star and current Saints stalwart Nick Beal to deliver the coup de grace and he ran home two late tries to seal the win.

The scorers:

For Northampton Saints:Tries: Howard, Drahm, Beal 2Cons: Drahm 2Pens: Drahm 3

For Newcastle Falcons:Tries: Noon, Hurter, Vyvyan Con: WalderPen: Walder

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