Myler pulls strings as Saints see off plucky Falcons

George Pisi goes over for his try against Newcastle at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

George Pisi goes over for his try against Newcastle at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Stephen Myler smashed through the 2,000 points barrier as he steered Saints to a bonus-point 39-31 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Franklin’s Gardens.

Myler pulled the strings throughout, setting the champions on their way by finishing off a slick first score and setting up George Pisi for the second.

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-221908009

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-221908009

A Calum Clark effort, a penalty try and a score from Luther Burrell got the job done in the second half, though the Falcons did fight back.

Scores from George McGuigan, Alex Tait and Richard Mayhew, added to Chris Harris’s first-half effort, gave the visitors a deserved try bonus point.

But it was Saints who were to start the new year with the five points that will ensure they remain on top of the Aviva Premiership pile for another week at least.

The Franklin’s Gardens faithful, who have now witnessed 48 tries in nine home games this season, were kept entertained, but the game had taken time to get going.

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-211459009

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-211459009

Myler got the scoring started after nine minutes, landing a penalty.

And Falcons were soon having to scramble to stop Saints scoring with George Pisi, who had received a neat offload from Samu Manoa, felled at the last by full-back Tait.

Myler almost provided a moment of magic but saw his crossfield kick dropped by the despairing Ken Pisi. However, those two were to play a part in the first try when it did eventually come.

Ken Pisi started the slickest of moves with a scything run and after a series of rapid offloads, Myler dived over in the corner.

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-211433009

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-211433009

The fly-half added the extras and Saints held a 10-0 lead after 16 minutes, but, to their credit, the Falcons refused to crumble.

A clever grubber kick from Tom Catterick was weighted to perfection as Harris stormed down the right to gather and score.

Catterick converted from the right touchline and he was soon levelling things up with a penalty.

The Falcons had been largely resolute and Saints were having to work hard to break them down, moving the ball quickly in an attempt to get through the rearguard.

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-211338009

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-211338009

After one piece of exhibition rugby ended with a drop at the crucial moment, George North’s break saw Myler put the ball on a plate for George Pisi, who beat his brother to the ball to score.

Myler landed the conversion and he was soon adding another penalty to the tally just five minutes into the second half.

Newcastle were 10 points down and they were soon a man light also as Josh Furno paid the price for his team’s persistent offending by seeing yellow after a breakdown offence.

Saints attempted to step on the accelerator with only a last-gasp tackle stopping Manoa scoring his side’s third try.

But it didn’t take too long before they extended their advantage as a brilliant burst from the excellent Ben Foden and tidy offload from Ken Pisi teed up Clark, who powered over the line.

Myler missed the chance to hit his milestone with the conversion, but he got there on 60 minutes after referee Ian Tempest awarded Saints a penalty try.

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-221606009

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-221606009

Newcastle responded as an unstoppable maul saw replacement hooker McGuigan grabbed the score.

Suddenly, the Falcons had the bit between their teeth and Saints were sleeping as Harris’s searing run saw Tait get another try back.

Catterick’s conversion cut the gap to eight points with 15 minutes to go, but Saints woke from their slumber with North’s good work down the left leading to a score for Burrell.

James Wilson, on for Myler, who received an avalanche of applause as he left the field after landing his landmark kick, notched the conversion.

But back came the Falcons again, earning the try bonus point they deserved as Mayhew grabbed their fourth score.

Catterick again converted superbly to reduce the deficit to eight with three minutes to go, but Saints saw it out to deny their opponents any further consolation.

Saints: Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell (Stephenson 70), North; Myler (Wilson 61), Dickson (Hodgson 76); A Waller (Corbisiero 51), Haywood (Williams 68), Ma’afu (Denman 56); Dickinson, Day (Wood 45); Clark (Nutley 68), Dowson (c), Manoa.

Newcastle: Tait; Harris, Powell, Tuilagi (Clegg 58), Barnes (Penny 40); Catterick, Blair (Tipuna 76); Fry (Vickers 58), Lawson (McGuigan 58), Brookes (Rogers 58); Green (Macleod 77), Furno; Mayhew, Welch (c), Wilson.

Referee: Ian Tempest

Attendance: 13,362

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-221552009

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons at Franklins Gardens. NNL-150201-221552009