Aviva Premiership: Saracens top of the league after beating Necastle
Last Updated: 03/11/13 6:21pm
Saracens remained on top of the Aviva Premiership table after a convincing 40-3 victory over Newcastle on Sunday, as Charlie Hodgson made a big impact on his first start of the season.
The hosts ran in five tries and limited the Falcons to just a single penalty from Phil Godman as they moved two points clear of Northampton, who also won on Sunday.
Veteran Hodgson was back in action after an Achilles injury and scored the opening try, two conversions and three penalties as Sarries bounced back from the 17-16 Heineken Cup defeat to Toulouse and last weekend's 41-20 Premiership hammering at Northampton.
Left-wing David Strettle, hooker Jamie George and full-back Alex Goode scored second-half tries to secure a bonus-point win for the leaders, before Goode converted Strettle's second try three minutes from time.
The Falcons had the best of the early exchanges and actually took the lead when Godman made up for hitting the post with a 10th-minute penalty by slotting another home five minutes later.
Sarries hit further line-out trouble when former England prop Matt Stevens was sin-binned for upending Newcastle lock Carlo Del Fava with an aerial challenge as he collected hooker Scott Lawson's throw.
Down to 14 men, Saracens finally took the game to Newcastle and after Argentinian debutant Marcelo Bosch and USA international Chris Wyles had gone close, Hodgson spotted a gap in the Falcons defence and went through it untouched for a well-taken 28th-minute try, which he converted.
Hodgson increased the lead to 10-3 after Newcastle left-wing Ryan Shortland looked fortunate to escape with a penalty as the only punishment for upending Will Fraser after the airborne Saracens flanker had beaten him to a high kick.
Hodgson struck his second penalty two minutes after the interval and stretched the lead to 13 points after the rampant Saracens scrum forced the back-pedalling Newcastle pack to concede a penalty directly in front of their posts.
Saracens' second try came in the 57th minute when full-back Goode threaded a diagonal left-foot kick through the Falcons defence for Strettle to collect and touch down by the corner flag.
Hodgson's touchline conversion attempt hit the post.
Saracens' scrum dominance produced their third try as they engineered a classic line-out and drive to force man-of-the-match George over the line - but Hodgson saw a second successive kick rebound from the upright.
Goode finished the 69th-minute bonus-point try, created by Hodgson and Fraser, with Hodgson converting before Strettle grabbed his second try three minutes from time, with Goode adding the conversion.