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Saints provide New Year fireworks

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 22:45
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George North and Dylan Hartley scored second-half tries as Northampton Saints marched to the top of the Premiership with victory over Harlequins.

In a physical, if flat, first half Saints No.10 Stephen Myler and opposite number Nick Evans traded penalties to send the sides in 6-6 at the break.

However, things heated up in the second 40 minutes with North storming over for his second try in as many weekends before Hartley, in front of the watching England coach Stuart Lancaster, ensured victory in the closing stages.

* In the other match on Friday Tom Brady's first-half try and the boot of Danny Cipriani secured Sale Sharks only their second-ever win in the Premiership at Kingston Park.

We look at Friday's matches!

Newcastle Falcons 8-16 Sale Sharks

Tom Brady's first-half try and the boot of Danny Cipriani secured Sale Sharks only their second-ever win in the Premiership at Kingston Park.

Andy Saull went over for the hosts in the first-half as well, only the Falcons' sixth try of the entire league season.

But Phil Godman's inaccuracy from the kicking tee proved vital and in worsening consitions in the second half it was left to replacement Nick MacLeod to slot the penalty that denied the Falcons a losing bonus point.

The Sharks momentarily climb to sixth in the table with the victory, only their second success in 21 previous visits to the North East and their second away from home this season.

Kieran Brookes carried with venom and won the Falcons their first penalty of the game in the third minute and Godman made no mistake to opening the scoring.

But no sooner had they gone in front than the hosts were penalised for not rolling away and the in-form Cipriani made no mistake to level the scores at 3-3.

Falcons' breakdown discipline was letting them down, Noah Cato one of the many to infringe but Cipriani missed a 13th minute penalty to let them off the hook.

Dean Richards' troops looked the more threatening with ball in hand and a Saull initial break down the left had them deep into Sale territory at the midway point in the first half.

But despite their more impressive work with the ball, Godman's misfiring right boot appeared to be costing them, the fly half twice missing penalties to leave the scores level after the first quarter.

And Sale made Godman pay for his inaccuracy moments later as the attack was moved through the Sale midfield first to the left and then to the right as winger Brady made the most of the overlap to dive over.

Cipriani added the extras from the right touchline and the Sharks had a 10-3 lead that flattered them somewhat.

New signing Sinoti was one of the bright sparks in the first half for the hosts however and a fine break down the left from him won a penalty that Godman kicked to the corner instead of having another shy at the posts.

And their ambition was rewarded when, after their first drive was repelled, the pack spun left and Saull barrelled over to make it 10-8, Godman unable to add the extras again.

But the Falcons' ill-discipline was still a worry and eventually referee Andrew Small had no choice but to send Carlo del Fava to the sin bin after persistent team offences.

The Falcons defence held firm however until the stroke of half-time when Cipriani slotted over his second penalty of the night for a 13-8 lead.

After the break both sides were locked in a stalemate in worsening conditions as Mike Blair and Del Fava both went off injured for the hosts and errors on both sides were preventing either team from mounting any real pressure.

Cipriani had the first scoring chance of the second half but skewed his 62nd minute penalty wide.

But the Sharks were the dominant side and comfortably held on for only their second away league win this season, MacLeod's penalty late on denying the Falcons a losing bonus point.

The scorers:

For Newcastle Falcons:
Try:
Saull
Pen: Godman

For Sale Sharks:
Try:
Brady
Con: Cipriani
Pens: Cipriani 2, Macleod

Yellow card: Carlo Del Fava (Newcastle Falcons, 31)

Teams:

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg (captain), 7 Andy Saull, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Carlo del Fava, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Franck Montanella, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 James Fitzpatrick.

Sale Sharks: 15 Robert Miller, 14 Thomas Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid (captain), 5 Michael Paterson 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Thomas Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Viliami Fihaki, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Phil Mackenzie.

Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Kevin Stewart & Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Trevor Fisher.

Northampton Saints 23-9 Harlequins

George North and Dylan Hartley scored second-half tries as Northampton Saints marched to the top of the Premiership with victory over Harlequins.

In a physical if flat first half Saints No.10 Stephen Myler and opposite number Nick Evans traded penalties to send the sides in 6-6 at the break.

However, things heated up in the second 40 minutes with North storming over for his second try in as many weekends before Hartley, in front of the watching England coach Stuart Lancaster, ensured victory in the closing stages.

The win maintained the Saints perfect start to the Premiership season at home and lifted the league's form team one point clear of Saracens.

From the first whistle Northampton went on the offensive, moving the ball right to left and then back again with North punching holes in the Harlequins defence.

After going through 12 phases Nick Easter was penalised for failing to roll away and Myler slotted the Saints' first three points.

Quins were level three minutes later when Evans slotted a penalty of his own and the Kiwi booted his side ahead after 18 minutes. First Tim Molenaar and then Tom Guest broke the Saints line and in the ensuing chaos George Robson and Chris Robshaw were tackled just short of the line before Saints were penalised and Evans stepped up.

However, Quins were down to 14 men soon when Tom Guest was sin-binned for coming in from the side as Saints threatened to drive over the whitewash from a lineout.

While the weather was inflating the error count neither side could be faulted for their physicality and Saints levelled thanks trademark break from their two biggest battering rams.

First Samu Manoa took the ball on the run from a lineout and while Quins managed to halt the No.8, Courtney Lawes took on the charge and while Robshaw stopped his England colleague he conceded a penalty in the process.

Myler made no error with the penalty from in front of the posts and after a stop-start first 40 minutes the two sides headed into the dressing rooms all square.

Quins lost Evans at the break with fellow New Zealander Ben Botica taking over at fly-half.

Saints launched the first meaningful attack of the second half and while Lee Dickson knocked on with the line gaping he was bailed out by an error from his brother, and Quins scrum-half, Karl.

His clearing kick from the resulting scrum failed to find touch and even worse it landed in the hands of North who skinned Charlie Walker before sliding over.

Myler kicked a superb conversion from the touchline and after 45 minutes Northampton led 13-6.

The momentum was now with Northampton and they could have extended their lead on 55 minutes only for Myler, who appeared to be struggling with an injury, to pull his kick wide with Botica reducing the gap to 13-9.

After a furious passage of play that featured a monster hit from Joe Marler on North and saw the TMO check for a series of offences, Myler kicked another penalty.

The officials were busy again with ten minutes to go when first former Northampton Saint Paul Doran Jones was sin-binned for bringing down a maul and then Hartley put Saints out of touch.

After seeing his lineout knocked over the Quins tryline by Robson, Hartley reacted quickest to dot the ball down and Myler converted with the help of the crossbar.

Saints also finished with 14 men after George Pisi was sin-binned for a high tackle but by then the game was won.

The scorers:

For Northampton Saints:
Tries:
North, Hartley
Cons: Myler 2
Pens: Myler 3

For Harlequins:
Pens:
Evans 2, Botica

Yellow cards: Tom Guest (Harlequins, 27), Paul Doran-Jones (Harlequins, 71), George Pisi (Northampton Saints, 77)

Teams:

Northampton Saints: 15 Tom Collins, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Fa'atoina Autagavaia.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Nick Kennedy, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.

Referee: Greg  Garner
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix & Paul Burton
TMO: David Grashoff.

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