Long arm of Wil­son drags his Fal­cons off the bot­tom

The Rugby Paper - - Premiership - By GARY FITZGER­ALD

DEAN Richards praised Mark Wil­son af­ter the Eng­land man re­turned to club ac­tion and in­spired Fal­cons to a dra­matic, cru­cial vic­tory at Franklin’s Gar­dens.

Flanker Wil­son reached out a long arm deep into in­jury time af­ter Dan Big­gar had been shown a yel­low card, to touch the ball against the base of a post and level the con­test. Toby Flood stepped up to coolly kick the con­ver­sion for the win, spark­ing wild cel­e­bra­tions from the vis­it­ing play­ers and fans.

Vic­tory takes Fal­cons off the bot­tom of the ta­ble and above Sale Sharks and a re­lieved di­rec­tor of rugby Richards in­sisted: “Mark did very well on his re­turn to us and I’m pleased he got that score. All the in­ter­na­tion­als who came back boosted the team.

“The ref­eree could have given a penalty try at the end but I was happy we won by scor­ing that try our­selves. This is a big win for the guys.

“The guys de­served this be­cause we’ve played well this sea­son with­out win­ning games.”

Wil­son’s try spoiled Dy­lan Hart­ley’s 250th ap­pear­ance for Saints who led most of the way af­ter falling be­hind to an early Flood penalty.

It was a first half of plenty of phys­i­cal­ity and ad­ven­ture from the home side but their ri­vals’ de­fence some­how man­aged to deny them. And, it was with an ironic groan, that when ref­eree Matthew Car­ley pe­nalised Saints at a ruck, Flood drifted his sec­ond penalty over to in­crease the ad­van­tage. The kick was made eas­ier when Courtney Lawes cost his side an ex­tra ten yards for com­plain­ing to Car­ley.

But the angst of the home sup­port­ers turned to cheers of joy when a scin­til­lat­ing, weav­ing run from Cobus Reinach saw him beat three at­tempted tack­lers and dart over for his side’s open­ing try. Big­gar im­press­ing on his re­turn from Welsh duty kick­ing su­perbly out of hand, also landed the con­ver­sion.

Fal­cons be­gan to flag hav­ing had to soak up plenty of heavy Saints pres­sure and the gaps be­gan to open. Flanker Teimana Har­ri­son found a big one, tak­ing Lawes pass in his stride and fed the sup­port­ing Reinach.

There was no stop­ping the scrum-half again as he left his tack­lers swip­ing at mid-air and the South African’s sec­ond try, un­der the posts and con­verted by Big­gar, gave his side some breath­ing space.

Brett Con­non came on as a re­place­ment for the dazed Si­mon Ham­mer­s­ley, tak­ing off to be as­sessed, and showed his cool­ness to send over a long-range kick and re­duce he deficit to five.

Then came a dra­matic and fran­tic fin­ish with Fal­cons camped on the Saints line des­per­ately try­ing to mus­cle their way across. Ref­eree Car­ley could eas­ily have sent a Saint to the sin bin well be­fore he sig­nalled for Big­gar to leave for con­stant foul play.

Down to 14 men, Saints fi­nally cracked and one more push saw Wil­son reach out for the cru­cial try. Flood’s con­ver­sion saw the visi­tors home for a win which will lift their spir­its head­ing into Euro­pean bat­tle next week­end.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

My ball: Fal­cons’ try-scorer Mark Wil­son com­petes with Saints Teimana Har­ri­son

Star man: Cobus Reinach dives in to score Saints’ first try

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