Saints slip into semi-final spot
MATCH REPORT: Northampton Saints moved into the Premiership Rugby semi-final spots as Tom Collins struck a first-half hat-trick to help them seal a 31-17 win over Newcastle Falcons.
The lightning-fast wing got over early in the first half and followed it up with his second and third before the half was out, Newcastle left with just a penalty from Sonatane Takulua at the interval.
The Falcons rallied after the break and got tries through Rodney Ah You and Takulua, but it wasn’t enough and Alex Mitchell came on to grab Saints’ crucial bonus point at the death.
Takulua opened the match with a three-pointer for Falcons but Saints were soon ahead as Collins broke around halfway and fed Cobus Reinach, whose clever backhanded offload re-found the wing.
Dan Biggar added a penalty and Saints got their second try as Taqele Naiyaravoro was set away down the left after a superb break from Reece Marshall, a simple offload allowing Collins to apply the finish.
Reinach was involved in the third too, as he sped away down the right off the back of a scrum and passed out to Collins, with nobody at home to stop him sprinting into the corner.
Saints led 24-3 at the break but Newcastle got themselves back in it in the opening to the second half as Ah You forced himself over from two metres.
Takulua then made a break which went unconverted but minutes later Sinoti Sinoti got his arms free in midfield and after going through George McGuigan and Simon Hammersley, Takulua applied the finish.
The score remained at 24-17 for much of the remainder, until replacement Mitchell made the telling break and coasted away to the line to break Falcons hearts.
For Newcastle Falcons:
Tries: Takulua, Ah You
Cons: Takulua 2
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Collins 3, Mitchell
Cons: Biggar 4
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nemani Nagusa, 7 Mark Wilson, 6 Callum Chick, 5 Andrew Davidson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Logovi’i Mulipola
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Sam Lockwood, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Michael Young, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Johnny Williams
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Rory Hutchinson, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Teimana Harrison (captain), 7 Tom Wood, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Reece Marshall, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Replacements: 16 Samson Ma’asi, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Devante Onojaif, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 James Grayson, 23 Andrew Kellaway
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Steve Lee & John Meredith.
TMO: David Hudson.