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Northampton tough it out


James Wilson crashed over for Northampton's opening try

James Wilson crashed over for Northampton's opening try

James Wilson crashed over for Northampton's opening try

Northampton maintained their unbeaten record at Franklin's Gardens this season, but it took last season's Premiership finalists nearly an hour to break down a stubborn Newcastle.

It was not until the 58th minute that James Wilson scored to add to two Stephen Myler penalties, the sum total of near constant home pressure. Luther Burrell added a second as Newcastle left empty-handed but with plenty of credit for a spirited display.

The Falcons were missing influential second row Dominic Barrow to a hamstring, while Saints were without captain Dylan Hartley, Alex Corbisiero and Tom Wood because of knocks they picked up with England. Samu Manoa was also absent as he was on international duty with USA.

With Wales wing George North joining those missing it may have been a part of the reason why Northampton struggled to penetrate the Newcastle line.

That might have been different had North's replacement Tom Collins not been denied by a superb Ryan Shortland tackle a metre short in the first minute.

The home side turned down four shots at the posts in the first 13 minutes but by hook or by crook the Newcastle pack repelled three lineout drives and held out.

After being kept at bay for 20 minutes the home side tried grubber kicks, with Burrell's effort almost setting up a try as Wilson offloaded back to the former Leeds centre as he was tackled just short. However, Burrell could not pick the ball off the floor and knocked on.

The visitors broke free to threaten through former Saint Noah Cato and scrum-half Mike Blair, but it was mainly dogged defence that Newcastle were concerned with.

When second row Carlo De Fava was sin-binned for killing the ball Northampton finally admitted defeat as Myler opened the scoring to make it 3-0 on the half hour.

Myler added three more points to make it 6-0 at the break as the Northampton's fans were growing increasingly frustrated with their side's inability to break the Newcastle defence.

But on 58 minutes Northampton finally scored when Jamie Elliott took an up-and-under on his 40 metre line, spotted a gap and then sent Wilson away down the right touchline 40m out. The Kiwi just about evaded Shortland and though Danny Barnes tackled him just short, Wilson managed to roll over and touchdown.

Ben Foden jarred his left knee landing awkwardly taking a high ball in the first half and finally had to be helped off on 64 minutes. But as the Saints full-back was helped around the edge of the pitch, Northampton scored a second try.

They caught Newcastle five metres from their line and Burrell somehow ripped the ball out and squirmed over to touch down, with the television match official eventually awarding the try, which Myler converted.