Newcastle 3-38 Saracens: Hodgson scores 21 points to inspire Sarries to bonus-point win
Saracens returned to the top of the Premiership table with 38-3 bonus-point win against Newcastle on their travels
Charlie Hodgson converted Samuela Vunisa’s try and added two penalties to give Sarries a 13-3 lead at half-time
Tries after the break from Nick Tompkins, Hodgson and Billy Vunipola secured the bonus-point and the victory
Charlie Hodgson scored 21 points in a masterful performance as Saracens kept up their 100 percent Premiership record this season with a hard-earned 38-3 bonus-point win over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.
Sarries led 13-3 at half time after a Samu Vunisa try, plus a conversion and two penalties from Charlie Hodgson had cancelled out a Tom Catterick three-pointer for the hosts.
But the league leaders pulled clear in the second half with three further tries, added to by a conversion and a pair of penalties by RUCK Man of the Match Hodgson helping Sarries record a convincing win. Andy Goode also kicked a conversion to complete the visitors scoring.
Despite the 35-point losing margin, the Falcons were competitive for long periods, limiting the star-studded Fez Boys to just one try inside the opening hour.
It was Vunisa who got it ten minutes in, the Italian Number 8 capitalising on a sustained spell of visiting pressure to rumble over, Hodgson converting.
A no arms tackle on 19 minutes then offered Hodgson the chance to kick his first penalty of the game – he made no mistake – but Catterick hit back with a kick of his own to make it 10-3 after 20 minutes.
However, Saracens finished the half on top and Hodgson nailed a challenging penalty attempt on the stroke of half-time to set up a 13-3 interval lead.
Newcastle continued to toil long into the second half and the game remained firmly in the balance during the opening quarter of the second period.
Both defences stood firm in the end-to-end action on Kingston Park’s 3G pitch, a Hodgson penalty the only change which left Sarries 13 points up, but Nick Tompkins eventually blew the scoreboard open with 17 minutes to play.
The dominant centre’s barnstorming try was improved by Hodgson – that put the Mark McCall’s men 23-3 ahead and made the game all-but safe, putting Saracens back to the top of the table, but their champion spirit saw the pressure continue on the Falcons’ line.
After a steely period, Sarries went in for their third try of the day, 35-year-old Hodgson defying his years by scorching in following a trademark interception.
He rushed the conversion attempt and skewed it wide, but that left time for The Men in Black to hunt a fourth try and an unlikely five-point victory.
After possession changed hands no less that three times following the 80-minute mark, Ben Ransom emerged from a scrappy period of play, breaking clear to help set up field position for Billy Vunipola to crash over.
Andy Goode notched the extras to round off an efficient evening of work in the north east for the reigning champions.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Saracens: Charlie Hodgson
In a game where the chips were often down for Sarries, Hodgson pulled the strings to guide the champions comfortably over the line in the end. Aside from his 21-point haul, his stellar general play showed he can still perform at the highest level, despite retirement approaching at the end of the season.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Tom Catterick, 9 Michael Young, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Calum Green, 4 Sean Robinson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sonatane Takulua 22 Craig Willis, 23 Chris Harris
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George (c), 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Tim Streather, 23 Ben Ransom
Date: Sunday, December 6
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Andy Watson
TMO: David Grashoff