Takulua stars as Falcons down Saints
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Sonatane Takulua scored a hat-trick as Newcastle Falcons staged a roaring second-half comeback to defeat Northampton Saints 46-31 in a pulsating Premiership Rugby clash at Kingston Park.
Takulua ran in three of Falcons’ seven tries as the hosts won 46-31, despite the Saints starting at breakneck speed and crossing the Falcons try-line twice in the first six minutes.
The Falcons trailed at the interval after scores from Ken Pisi, Jamie Gibson and Harry Mallinder, all converted by Stephen Myler, had the visitors in control.
Myler added a penalty as the Saints amassed 24 points in the opening period.
Takulua scored a penalty, try and conversion, as well as a Sean Robinson score, to keep the Falcons within touching distance of the Saints, bagging 15 points of their own.
And any worries of the home side getting back into the game were swiftly extinguished within moments of the restart.
Rob Vickers plundered a try after excellent build-up work by Alex Tait and Mark Wilson, Takulua adding the extras.
And within seconds of the kick-off, Takulua dashed over in the left corner to secure the bonus point for the hosts as they moved into the lead, which they would not surrender.
But Falcons were not satisfied by simply being ahead and moved further distance between the sides when Takulua dived over once more in the far left corner, after excellent running from Mark Wilson and Sinoti Sinoti.
Saints were reeling, and it got even better for Falcons when Kyle Cooper crossed for the sixth score for Dean Richards’ side, Hodgson securing the touchline conversion.
However, the home side were pegged back 12 minutes from time when hooker Mikey Haywood bulldozed over for the Saints, with Myler’s conversion narrowing the gap to eight at 39-31.
Saints threw everything at the Falcons defence as they tried to find a way back into the game, but Wilson removed all doubt when he crossed from a driving maul in the closing stages, Takulua adding the extras.
The result leaves Falcons seventh with 35 points from 15 matches, with Saints in eighth, a point behind.
Tries: Takulua 3, Robinson, Vickers, Cooper, Wilson
Cons: Takulua 3, Hodgson
Tries: K Pisi, Gibson, Mallinder, Haywood
Cons: Myler 4
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Opeti Fonua, 20 Evan Olmstead, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Chris Harris
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (captain), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal, Wayne Falla
TMO: Stuart Terheege