Wyles Try & Farrell Boot Lead Saracens Over Newcastle Falcons, as Premiership Rugby Returns to the USA
By Doug Coil
On Saturday, September 16, the Aviva Premiership Rugby played their second regular season match in the United States, as the Newcastle Falcons lost a home match to the Saracens 29-7 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA.
The Saracens were also involved in the first regular season ever played on foreign soil, as they came from behind to beat London Irish 26-16 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. in March, 2016.
Former USA Eagles captain Chris Wyles made his 229th appearance for the Saracens against the Falcons and had a try for the first scoring of the match.
This Premiership Rugby match is part of a long-term agreement with AEG, the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, and involves Premiership Rugby playing a match in the USA every year for four years. The multi-year agreement also has the backing of NBC who streamed the match live on NBC Sports Gold and on a delayed broadcast on NBC Sports Net at 11pm ET Sunday, September 17. In the United Kingdom, the match was shown live on BT Sport with highlights available through our newest broadcast Partner, Channel 5.
Clinics & Scholarships
Premiership Rugby in cooperation with the Friends of the British Council, conducted both player and coaching clinics in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. leading up to the match. I had a chance to interview coaches involved with the first clinic on September 5th at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, N.J.
In addition to the clinics, Premiership Rugby will be providing scholarships for 20 players and 10 coaches to come to England next Spring. Their names were announced by Rugby Wrap Up media personality Matt McCarthy at halftime.
Newcastle Falcons v Saracens Match Recap
After a Falcons clearance kick went directly into touch, the Saracens attacked from a lineout using quick hands wide and Chris Wyles scored a try in the corner and Owen Farrell converted for a 7-0 lead after 7 minutes.
The Saracens used a kick and chase as Wyles to drove a Falcon player into touch 5 meters out. Several phases later, a Saracens player was driven into touch and after the lineout, the Falcons cleared into Saracens territory.
The Saracens continued with their attack with a high ball by Farrell that was taken by Liam Williams, who ran to within 3 meters of the line before a knock on allowed the Falcons to clear.
The Falcons added points when an errant pass from Saracens player, resulted in Mark Wilson gathering a loose ball and running 40 meters and offloading to Vereniki Goneva, who finished the counterattack with a try. Sonatane Takulua conversion knotted the match at 7 all.
Two minutes later, a penalty by the Falcons had Owen Farrell slotting the ball for a 10-7 Saracens lead.
The Falcons used the boot of Simon Hammersley to apply pressure to the Saracens, as he kicked ahead with Alex Goode defending as the ball stopping within a meter of in-goal. The Saracens survived the defensive pressure and Owen Farrell added another penalty kick with no time prior to the break to give the Saracens a 13-7 lead over the Newcastle Falcons.
Four minutes into the second half, Owen Farrell slotted his third penalty kick increasing the Saracens lead to 16-7. In the 51st minute, he then slotted his 4th penalty kick increasing the score to 19-7. A few minutes later and Farrell continued to make the Falcon pay for their errors as he added his fifth penalty kick and a 22-7 lead.
With five minutes left in the match, the Saracens were awarded a penalty try by JP Doyle, as Goneva intentionally batted the ball, and the Saracens lead was 29-7.
That would be the final score, as many fans in the United States enjoyed the match live or the broadcast. Matches like these continue to help grow the sport of rugby in the USA.
Saracens v Newcastle Falcons: 1 Mako Vunipola 2 Jamie George 3 Juan Figallo 4 Nick Isiekwe 5 Maro Itoje 6 Michael Rhodes 7 Schalk Burger 8 Billy Vunipola 9 Ben Spencer 10 Owen Farrell 11 Chris Wyles 12 Brad Barritt (c) 13 Marcelo Bosch 14 Liam Williams 15 Alex Goode 16 Christopher Tolofua 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer 18 Kieran Longbottom 19 Dominic Day 20 Jackson Wray 21 Richard Wigglesworth 22 Nick Tompkins 23 Sean Maitland
Referee: JP Doyle (135th Premiership game); Assistant Referees: Dean Richards & Paul Burton; TMO: David Sainsbury; Citing Officer: Andy Blyth.