Premiership: Newcastle Falcons 27-35 Saracens

Billy Vunipola
Billy Vunipola could return for England's Six Nations games against Scotland and Ireland
Aviva Premiership
Newcastle (6) 27
Try: Waldouck, Goneva, D. Wilson Cons: Takulua, Delany 2 Pens: Takulua 2
Saracens (18) 35
Tries: Rhodes, Lozowski 2, Ashton, Earle Cons: Lozowski 2 Pens: Lozowski 2

England number eight Billy Vunipola returned from injury as Saracens secured a bonus-point win at Newcastle.

Tries from Michael Rhodes, Alex Lozowski and Chris Ashton put Sarries 23-6 up early in the second half before Dominic Waldouck replied for the hosts.

Lozowski's second and Nathan Earle's score made it 35-13 but Newcastle rallied late on, with converted tries from Vereniki Goneva and David Wilson.

Vunipola could now feature in the rest of England's Six Nations campaign.

The 24-year-old, capped 32 times, had been out of action since November with a knee injury, but completed 72 minutes at Kingston Park on his comeback.

Defending Premiership champions Saracens were in complete control when Vunipola came off, but two late tries gave Newcastle hopes of securing two bonus points.

The Falcons eventually fell short, suffering their 17th consecutive defeat by Saracens in all competitions - a run stretching back to 2009.

Sarries move a point behind second-placed Exeter Chiefs, boosting their hopes of a home semi-final in the play-offs.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:

"We are disappointed but it's probably a measure of where we are at this moment in time.

"We missed three try-scoring opportunities. Had we taken those it might have been a different thing altogether.

"That was probably the story of the day, really, and Saracens were far more clinical than we were.

"I am pretty upset about it and I know the players are as well."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:

"We were pretty clinical when we got some opportunities or half-opportunities.

"I thought we defended well in the first 65 minutes because they are unbelievably dangerous and play some great rugby.

"For us to come up here and get five tries and five points is a good achievement.

"They have got some players who are hard to handle and, when they get on a roll like that, they are as good as anybody in attack."

Newcastle: Tait; Goneva, Waldouck, Socino, Sinoti; Hodgson, Takulua; Vickers, Cooper, Welsh, Green, Olmstead, M Wilson, Welch, Latu.

Replacements: Lawson, Harris, D Wilson, Hogg, Chick, Egerton, Delany, Harris.

Saracens: Taylor; Ashton, Bosch, Barritt, Maitland; Lozowski, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, Brits, Figallo, Rhodes, Hamilton, Wray, Conlon, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Saunders, Barrington, Du Plessis, Flanagan, Brown, Spencer, Malins, Earle.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.

For the latest rugby union news follow @bbcrugbyunionexternal-link on Twitter.

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC