At the start of this game when Sleights reached and scored and Newcastle were rocking on their foundations a little you never would have guessed what was coming.
At that stage it didn’t seem to matter so much that some good ball went up the odd blind alley or got turned over in contact.
Saints’ defence was as dynamic as the attack: Hutchinson put in an amazing try saving tackle on Radwan at one point.
But the real price of those split-second attacking errors – the points left unscored – came at the heart-stopping end of the match as Falcons clawed their way back into contention with brilliant solo efforts from the likes of Carreras, Radwan and Wacokecoke.
There is a particular sound Franklin’s Gardens makes when a chance goes begging. It’s an extended ‘ooh’ that is just a couple of notches down from the stronger outraged ‘ooooh’ that is the response to opposition foul play.
It’s the sound of what could have been, the sound of something nearly happening. If you believe in the multiverse theory of quantum physics it is the sound of another universe splitting off in which Saints are an irresisitible points generating machine relentlessly creeping forwards over the squashed dreams of every other rugby club in the rugbyverse.
But if we lived in that universe we would be having the Saracens fan experience wouldn’t we? Ticking off the points as we harvest them in a soul-deadening ballet of efficiency, emotionally incapable of appreciating our success, having to fake humility because you’re not really sure what it’s for.
Instead, in our real universe we enjoy games like this one where the euphoria is about just getting away with it.
At my very low ability level of mountain biking there is a thrill you sometimes get just from realising you are still on your bike after you have whoop-de-wooed your way through some kind of obstacle by the skin of your teeth. It might not look like much to anyone else but the buzz is very real.
And let us not underestimate what it took from Saints to get away with it. At times Mitchell and Furbank were moving through the Newcastle defence like ghosts with afterburners. Juarno Augustus crashed through the Newcastle defence like a humvee that could do hand-offs. Incisive passing from Grayson. Clever lines from Dingwall. Collins lurking like a sniper. Sleighthome explosive in defence and attack. Hinckley bringing scary back.
Newcastle at times were brilliant. It would be a hard heart at Franklin’s Gardens that could not appreciate the audacity of Carreras’ try. However Saints have such a lot of good parts that are almost clicking that I can’t help but be optimistic. And a win is a win no matter what universe you are in. Pictures by Dave Ikin