Saracens clip Falcons' wings
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: American star Chris Wyles fittingly opened the scoring in Philadephia, but it was the boot of the returning Owen Farrell that proved the difference as Saracens edged out Newcastle Falcons 29-7.
In only the second Premiership clash ever to be played overseas, Falcons took on the Wolfpack in front of an excitable US crowd in the Talen Energy Stadium.
In Saturday's other clash, Leicester Tigers produced a brilliant first-half display to see off Gloucester 24-10 and claim their first Premiership win of the season at Welford Road.
Newcastle Falcons 7-29 Saracens
And it was a fairytale start, as who else but homegrown hero Chris Wyles – who grew up just up the road in Stamford – who notched the first score after just eight minutes.
Saracens shot out of the blocks and showed slick hands with Farrell offloading out the back, before Liam Williams and Alex Goode linked up well to release Wyles down the left for the game’s opening try.
Farrell brilliantly struck the extras from out wide, and that was the early warning sign that the England fly-half’s radar was tuned in – another five penalties were to follow from the No.10, who was starting his first Aviva Premiership clash of the season.
Sarries threatened again shortly after as Springbok openside Schalk Burger produced a brilliantly deft grubber-kick which Simon Hammersley had no option but to collect and run into touch five metres out.
Newcastle performed some heroic defence to repel wave after wave of Saracens attacks, but with the Men in Black pressing for a second score, Falcons hit them on the counter.
Mark Wilson showed superb awareness to snatch up a loose ball after Jamie George uncharacteristically spilled, starting off a length-of-the-field score by releasing Vereniki Goneva who finished well.
But two Farrell penalties right in front of the posts before half-time saw Saracens go in ahead, and while Goode looked trapped on his own line just before the break, Farrell got back brilliantly to clear out and Saracens breathed a sigh of relief.
Farrell was metronomic from the tee after the break, adding three more penalties to put Saracens out of sight as Newcastle were forced to defend for long periods.
Something had to give and on 73 minutes a lovely move off the back a scrum from the Wolfpack produced a penalty try with Goneva guilty of a deliberate knock-on, and the centre saw yellow as a result.
Tries: Wyles, Penalty try
Pens: Farrell 5
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Sinoti Sinoti, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 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 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Will Witty, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Belisario Agulla.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Nick Isiekwe, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Sean Maitland.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Dean Richards, Paul Burton
TMO: David Sainsbury
Leicester Tigers 24-10 Gloucester
Ben Youngs went over twice in the first quarter of an hour, with former Sevens star Nick Malouf then running in a fine third as Leicester led 21-0 at the break.
Gloucester started the second half well, grabbing a try from Josh Hohneck, followed by a Billy Twelvetrees penalty.
George Ford added a penalty for Tigers but they could not find their way over for the bonus-point score despite threatening late on.
It took nine minutes for Youngs to break the deadlock as he showed some quick-thinking with a tap penalty to sneak over.
Ford converted and it was the same story six minutes later, with Youngs this time sniping over after a rolling maul.
Tigers were three scores clear after 21 minutes, with Malouf showing his finishing skills to thread his way through a number of would-be tacklers to score. Ford again converted.
Gloucester had been under the cosh for much for the first half, but were much-improved early in the second.
After working their way into Tigers territory, Willi Heinz delayed a pass before feeding Hohneck, who had the power and quick feet to get past Telusa Veainu to score.
Twelvetrees converted and added a penalty to cut the deficit to 11, but Ford responded with a three-pointer for the home side.
And despite lots of late Leicester pressure, that was it for the scoring, with Tigers off the mark after defeats to Bath and Northampton Saints.
Tries: B Youngs 2, Malouf
Cons: Ford 3
Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Valentino Mapapalangi, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mathew Tait.
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Ed Slater, 3 John Afoa, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Henry Purdy.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, John Meredith
TMO: Sean Davey