Falcons fend off Sale comeback to edge thriller
Newcastle Falcons climbed into the Premiership's play-off places on the back of an exhilarating 35-30 victory at home to Sale Sharks on Friday.
Both sides came into this meeting at Kingston Park just outside the top four, and it was the Falcons who narrowly prevailed in a thrilling encounter which saw the lead change hands four times in the second period.
Newcastle ran in five tries and their maximum haul sees them move three points above Wasps and Leicester Tigers into third, although those two sides are both in action on home soil on Saturday.
It looked as though it would be a procession as Newcastle secured the bonus point by racing into a 25-0 lead inside half an hour.
FT: @FalconsRugby 35-30 @SaleSharksRugby-- Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) April 13, 2018
What an incredible game of rugby Rob Vickers gets a try in the final minute to restore the Falcons lead and give them a nerve-shredding win
Congratulations to both sides for serving up a thriller #NEWvSAL#AvivaPrempic.twitter.com/1VWl5B3shO
Calum Green was first to score and Gary Graham - back after a neck injury suffered in England training in February - marked his return with a try. Simon Hammersley made it 20-0 and the fourth was not long in coming as hooker Scott Lawson picked up and piled over.
That score came even with Newcastle a man light due to Will Welch's yellow, but if the Falcons thought they had sunk the Sharks they were sorely mistaken as Ben Curry pounced on a loose ball, which prompted a prolonged bout of fisticuffs, before Marland Yarde surged over.
Two AJ MacGinty penalties reduced the gap to five after the interval and Sale were sensationally in front on the hour as Sam James brilliantly fed brother Luke, who set Yarde free for his second.
Joel Hodgson and MacGinty traded kicks as the pendulum swung back and forth but ultimately Newcastle had the final say as Rob Vickers burrowed over with two minutes remaining to leave Sale's play-off hopes looking slim.