Defending Premiership champions Saracens got their campaign off to an excellent start following a 32-21 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

The Falcons opened the game well, going 6-0 ahead via Toby Flood, but the defending champions hit back through Owen Farrell’s penalty and Jamie George’s well-taken try.

Flood added another three-pointer to reduce the arrears before Alex Lewington scored for Sarries with his first touch after coming on as a replacement.

Mark Wilson reduced the deficit in the second half but Lewington’s second moved Mark McCall’s charges clear once again. Wilson went over for his second late on but it was not to be for Newcastle as Tompkins and Farrell made sure of the win.

Although the Falcons finished last season in fourth and qualified for the semi-finals, they have often struggled against Saracens and, despite a valiant effort, the title-holders just had the edge.

Newcastle began impressively, however, putting the visitors under pressure and earning two penalties which Flood converted, but the Londoners soon asserted their authority on proceedings.

Firstly, Farrell reduced the arrears from the tee after an infringement at the set-piece before they produced a wonderful move that ended in the opening try.

Alex Lozowski was the instigator, breaking through the middle and taking play up towards the opposition 22. With the hosts on the back foot, Sarries spotted space on the right and Jamie George and David Strettle brilliantly combined to allow the hooker to cross the whitewash.

To the Tynesiders’ credit, they were resilient and prevented the champions from gaining too much front-foot ball. Their first-up defence was excellent and they were rewarded by another Flood effort off the tee to reduce the arrears to one point.

However, Dean Richards’ men were hit by a blow late in the half when Sarries produced a second incisive attack of the match. Lozowski was once again to the fore, off-loading to a charging Farrell, and the fly-half fed Lewington, who touched down on debut.

Following that score, which gave them a 17-9 advantage at the interval, the Londoners controlled the early exchanges of the second period, but the Falcons were stout in defence.

Buoyed by that effort, they started to gain the ascendency in the scrum and, after they had moved upfield following a dominant shove, Wilson spotted a hole in the opposition rearguard to go over.

Although Flood was awry with the conversion, Newcastle were back in the contest, but the visitors simply upped the intensity and appeared to have completed the victory via Lewington. The wing latched onto Farrell’s looping pass to cross the line in the corner, going over unopposed.

Richards’ charges did not yield, though, and ill-discipline from the visitors saw Sarries reduced to 13 men as Tompkins and Alex Goode were sin-binned. With their opponents short in defence, the hosts charged forward through their maul and Wilson was the beneficiary of his team-mates’ good work.

The Tynesiders had the momentum but, in typical Saracens fashion, they clinically put the game to bed through Tompkins’ score and Farrell’s penalty.

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