Wilson shines as Saints down dogged Newcastle

HE'S BACK - James Wilson could make his return from injury in Saints' game at Newport (Picture: Linda Dawson)
HE'S BACK - James Wilson could make his return from injury in Saints' game at Newport (Picture: Linda Dawson)

James Wilson and Luther Burrell took centre stage as Saints beat a gritty Newcastle Falcons team 18-0 at Franklin’s Gardens.

Wilson made the most of some superb work from Jamie Elliott to break down Dean Richards’ resilient side 18 minutes after the break, with Burrell adding a second score soon after.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

It had been a frustrating afternoon for Saints up to that point, with the Falcons becoming the first team to stop them scoring a first-half try this season.

Jim Mallinder’s men only had two Stephen Myler penalties to show for their efforts before the break, with Falcons lock Carlo del Fava helping the cause by seeing yellow.

But Wilson’s run and roll over the line quelled some of the home faithful’s annoyance and Burrell put the seal on proceedings.

Saints went into the game having won five successive games in all competitions, while the Falcons only had only claimed five victories all season.

Pictures by Emma Davidson

Pictures by Emma Davidson

But Newcastle refused to read the script and put in a dogged first-half display that began with Ryan Shortland making a superb last-ditch tackle to stop Tom Collins scoring.

Saints had shown their intentions early on with Myler turning down kicks at goal left, right and centre, booting the ball to the corner at every opportunity.

Falcons, though, were refusing to be shot down, showing good linespeed and refusing to give their hosts any gaps to exploit.

It took the away side 13 minutes to exit their own half, but when they did there was no shortage of appetite, with former Saints wing Noah Cato clearly eager to make an impact.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Having spent some time penned in, Northampton eventually relieved the pressure but they were still struggling to break down an extremely solid Newcastle defence.

Burrell came close, knocking on five metres out as an irksome encounter became more and more frustrating by the minute.

Saints did finally have the lead half an hour in as del Fava was sin-binned for hands in the ruck and Myler made the resulting penalty from in front of the posts.

The fly-half added another three points five minutes later but it was not going to plan for Northampton.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Newcastle would have been mindful of the fact they had headed in 10-3 down at Saracens in their most recent Premiership game before shipping 30 unanswered points in the second half.

But Saints were struggling to get into the groove. They needed some inspiration to break down a resolute Falcons rearguard.

It finally came from Elliott and Wilson, with the winger gathering a high ball superbly, bursting forward and passing the ball wide to the centre who finished superbly.

Myler made a mess of the conversion but Saints had the impetus they needed and Burrell soon added a second score, putting the finishing touches to a try which the TMO took an eternity to make a decision on.

The successful conversion took the score to 18-0 before Newcastle missed a chance to get themselves on the board, replacement Warren Fury knocking on with the line in sight.

Saints had been making a steady stream of changes, some enforced as Ben Foden limped off and Wilson took a blow to the face, and it hampered their flow.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Newcastle still couldn’t get themselves on the scoreboard, though, giving Northampton positives to take from a day that hadn’t quite gone to plan but had still produced a comfortable win.

Saints: Foden (Waldouck 61); Elliott, Wilson (G Dickson 73), Burrell, Collins; Myler, Dickson (A Day 73); A Waller (E Waller 65), Haywood (McMillan 73), Ma’afu, Lawes (Nutley 65), Day (van Velze 64), Clark, Dowson (c), Dickinson.

Replacements: Mercey.

Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Cato, Barnes, Powell (York 68), Shortland; Godman (Clegg 65), Blair (Fury 65); Vickers, Lawson, Tomaszczyk (Wilson 63), del Fava, McKenzie (MacLeod 59), Mayhew, Welch (c), Hogg (Fitzpatrick 68).

Replacements: McGuigan, Shiells.

Referee: Dean Richards

Attendance: 12,415