Newcastle Falcons 8 Northampton Saints 44: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

There are only so many times players are able to say they are learning their lessons before patience runs out.

By Tom Vickers
Saturday, 8th January 2022, 7:33 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th January 2022, 7:38 pm
George Furbank was in the thick of the action for Saints
George Furbank was in the thick of the action for Saints

But what Saints showed on Saturday afternoon was that not only are they capable of delivering improvement through a week, but also during a game, too.

And they did it in some style at Kingston Park.

Because after a tough opening 20 minutes in which the ill discipline that has blighted some parts of this season continued, Saints well and truly sorted things out.

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They shed their sinners tag and delivered a defensive display that laid the foundation for one of their finest wins during Chris Boyd's time in charge of the club.

Saints not only limited the Falcons, who struggled to come up with solutions to the away side's linespeed during most of the afternoon, to just eight points, they scored 44 of their own.

And what a tonic this was after the black, green and gold had scored just 12 points in their past 168 minutes of rugby.

Tom Collins' 23rd-minute try, created by a monstrous tackle from Fraser Dingwall, seemed to breathe new life into this Saints team.

They suddenly showed some real belief, in attack and defence, stopping the Falcons in their tracks at every turn.

It was a hugely impressive away performance in the first game on the road in 2022.

And supporters will hope it can be the springboard to success in the calendar year.

Of course, you can't get too carried away after just one win.

But this was some win.

And the players and fans who made the long trip north earned the right to savour this success.

It was what everyone of a Saints persuasion will want to see more of in the weeks and months to come.

Europe beckons once more in the next two weeks, but the Premiership is the prize Saints want now.

And they must produce plenty more performances of this nature before the campaign is out if they are to achieve their aims.

If they can show the kind of confidence they exhibited on both sides of the ball at Kingston Park, it will be more than a start on the journey.

There are of course much tougher tests lying in wait.

But the way Saints dealt with a Falcons team who had beaten them in seven of the previous eight meetings between the sides in the Premiership can be seen as nothing but a positive.

After a tricky start to 2022 against Saracens, Saints have lift off.

And they will know this kind of showing now needs to become their new normal.

How they rated...


Looked to be a doubt after going down in the warm-up, but he recovered in some style to produce a performance full of class that included a try and a try assist... 9


Grabbed yet another try as he made the most of some fine work from Sam Matavesi, and the wing looked to be enjoying his afternoon... 8


He was only on the field for 40 minutes, but he played a huge part in this victory, making a sensational hit that set Saints on their way... 8


This was his kind of game on a fast surface and he also put himself about in defence as he helped to deliver a win for his team... 8


An impressive return to action for the wing as he scored one and set up another in fine fashion for Furbank... 8.5


Even landed a drop goal on a day when he once again displayed his class, completely outshining his opposite number... 8


His clearance kicks were decent and he helped to set the tone for Saints, playing with his typical fast tempo and making good decisions... 8


Had he managed to gather his own kick ahead, he could have scored a legendary prop try but it wasn't quite to be on a day when he did a lot of other things right... 7.5


This man seemed to savour the occasion as he not only set up a try with a sublime piece of footwork but he also added his name to the scoresheet in the second half... 9


Racked up the tackles and thundered into contact on a few occasions as he tried to put pressure on Newcastle... 7.5


Looked hungry for the scrap as he took the ball into traffic and gained ground for his team as well as doing his job defensively... 7.5


Ploughed forward at every opportunity, getting his hands on the ball as much as he could and taking the fight to Newcastle... 8


Got through a huge amount of work here, making tackle after tackle and refusing to miss one as he showed his desire once again... 8.5


The skipper just keeps delivering, week after week. He made a key turnover that helped Saints to get out and set them up for a score, which summed the day up... 9


Yellow card aside, this was a trademark performance from the tireless No.8 as he looked like he'd never been away with a showing full of ferocity... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

TOM LITCHFIELD (for Dingwall 40)

Made a real impression during the second half as he not only delivered a try-saving tackle but also played his part in Furbank's try. Continues to look a real prospect with good physicality... 8