Sarries steamroll Falcons
Charlie Hodgson was instrumental as Saracens got back to winning ways against Newcastle Falcons at Allianz Park.
Charlie Hodgson was instrumental on his first Premiership start of the season as Saracens got back to winning ways against Newcastle Falcons at Allianz Park.
Hodgson, fit again after an Achilles injury, scored one of five Saracens tries as they put to bed the 41-20 defeat, their first in the Premiership this season, to Northampton Saints last weekend.
David Strettle bagged a double and Jamie George and Alex Goode also touched down with Saracens, Premiership leaders again, pulling away in the second half having gone in at the break 10-3 ahead.
Hodgson also contributed three penalties and two conversions for 18 points overall while Newcastle, previously unbeaten in two, had a solitary penalty from Phil Godman to show for their efforts.
Godman had a chance to put the first points on the board for Newcastle in the tenth minute following a penalty conceded by Saracens 15 metres out but his kick struck the left post.
The visitors earned another penalty three minutes later following an infringement by Saracens at the lineout and this time flyhalf Godman made sure of his angles and put the Falcons on the board.
Saracens gave away their fourth penalty of the half less than a minute later on halfway, which resulted in Matt Stevens being sent to the sin bin.
Godman had the chance to extend the Falcons lead with Stevens in the bin in the 19th minute as Saracens were penalised on their own 22 but his kick drifted wide of the post.
The returning Hodgson missed a perfect opportunity to level the scores for Saracens as his penalty also fell victim to the strong crosswind.
Hodgson made up for the miss three minutes later with a try though, following Chris Wyles' elusive run down to the five metre line, and converted to put Saracens 7-3 ahead.
Falcons wing Ryan Shortland was penalised for a tackle on Will Fraser as both challenged for a high ball from Neil de Kock with Hodgson increasing Saracens' lead to seven going into half-time.
Hodgson was again on target from the tee at the start of the second half, converting a penalty from just inside the Newcastle half.
Saracens worked their set pieces well and Jackson Wray burrowed into the Newcastle half before knocking on at the 20-metre line.
From the resulting scrum though the Saracens forwards won a penalty which Hodgson converted to keep his fine return going.
And just before the hour the floodgates opened as Strettle chased down Goode's grubber, collecting one-handed as it bounced towards touch before grounding tightly in the corner.
The Sarries pack again showed their dominance five minutes later as they rolled over from a five-metre line-out, with George touching down for the try.
Goode continued the rout, scoring after a piercing run from replacement Duncan Taylor into the Newcastle 22 - the ball recycled out to the right touchline where he went in untouched.
And Strettle grabbed his second try of the game in the dying minutes - Goode converting after Hodgson had done the honours for his score.
Tries: Hodgson, Strettle 2, George, Goode
Cons: Hodgson 2, Goode
Pens: Hodgson 3
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mourtiz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements:16 Schalk Brits, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 George Kruis, 20 Jacques Burger, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Ben Ransom.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg (captain), 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Carlo del Fava, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 James Fitzpatrick.
Northampton Saints 19-14 London Irish
James O'Connor's Premiership debut for London Irish ended in defeat as Northampton Saints were kicked home to a 19-14 victory by Stephen Myler.
O'Connor, capped by Australia 44 times, joined the Exiles this week and was immediately thrust into the action at the Madejski Stadium.
The 23-year-old impressed, particularly in the second half with ball in hand, but a resolute Saints defence held out and Myler's consistency from the tee - kicking 14 points - proved decisive.
James Wilson's first-half try was another highlight for high-flying Northampton, who kept up the pressure on the pacesetters with the victory, while Irish were indebted to O'Connor for assisting Sailosi Tagicakibau for their only try.
The Saints started on the front foot and Myler put them ahead on five minutes - his penalty on five minutes in front of the posts coming about as a result of an offside call.
But Ian Humphreys levelled the scores on ten minutes when he lofted over a three-pointer after Sam Dickinson was penalised.
Irish were then caught with their hands in the ruck and Myler, via the post, knocked over his second penalty of the afternoon on 12 minutes.
Things got even better for Saints on 23 minutes when Wilson crossed after a flowing move.
It started from a well-worked lineout, Kahn Fotuali'I spread the play which eventually found its way to George Pisi and his offload found the onrushing Wilson who broke a tackle to dot down under the posts.
Myler did not pass up the chance to add to his growing points tally with the conversion, and neither did Humphreys two minutes later as the Exiles responded immediately with a penalty.
The game turned scrappy in the run up to half-time, but Myler's concentration was not broken and he fired over another kick to give the Saints a 16-6 lead.
That was before a moment of class from O'Connor, who drew Ken Pisi in from the touchline, gave Tagicakibau a free run into the left corner to reduce the Exiles arrears to five points at the break.
Myler missed his first kick of the afternoon after the interval, and O'Connor showed signs of his fast feet in beating two men as the hosts sensed blood.
The Australian was seeing much more of the ball in the second period but Saints were holding firm.
Humphreys slipped another three-pointer wide for the Exiles with 20 minutes to go, but moments later he brought them within two points of Saints' lead.
Myler extended that to five with another penalty 12 minutes from time but sliced his next effort well wide - a kick that could have put Saints more than a converted try up on Irish.
It mattered little, though, as Saints held off a late onslaught from O'Connor and co to seal a vital victory.
For London Irish:
Pens: Humphreys 3
For Northampton Saints:
Pens: Myler 4
London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary (captain), 8 Chris Hala'ufia 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Mike Mayhew, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Declan Danaher, 21 Alex Lewington, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.
Northampton Saints: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson (captain), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Dom Waldouck.