Falcons make cup progress
Newcastle got their LV= Cup campaign off to a winning start when they inflicted a second successive defeat on London Irish at Kingston Park.
The Falcons followed up their 13-11 Aviva Premiership success with a more comprehensive 29-21 cup win, although both sides showed a host of changes from the league clash.
The second-half sin-binnning of prop Jamie Hagan proved crucial as Newcastle scored their second try while he was off to take a 26-18 lead and set up their win.
The hosts led 9-8 at the 20-minute mark, Falcons fly-half Rory Clegg having landed three penalties in response to a try from Tom Fowlie and Shane Geraghty penalty for the visitors.
Tom Catterick released flyer Zach Kibirige in a promising attack, but his pass was fractionally forward and the Falcons had to settle for Clegg's opening penalty for offside.
James Fitzpatrick's prodded kick sent Kibirige haring through and it needed all of Geraghty's experience to hold up the ball until his support arrived allowing Irish to clear.
Clegg kicked his second penalty when Irish infringed at the maul but two minutes later Geraghty's floated pass fooled both Fitzpatrick and Kibirige and Fowlie shrugged off Fitzpatrick's despairing tackle to score.
Clegg's third penalty on the 18th minute for another midfield offside made it 9-5, but Geraghty was pulling the strings from number 10 for Irish and he made it 9-8 with his first penalty two minutes later and then nearly engineered a second try with a clever crossfield kick to Andrew Fenby.
It needed a crunching tackle from Catterick to prevent the try but when play was brought back for a penalty for offside, Geraghty calmly slotted to edge the Exiles ahead.
The Falcons finally made their superiority at the rolling maul count, kicking a penalty to the corner, driving it right up to the Irish line and then infield for scrum-half Warren Fury to dive through and cleverly push the ball against the post for a try which Clegg converted, and Newcastle led 16-11 at the break.
Six minutes into the second half Irish scored a cracking try with Guy Armitage sweeping through midfield and while there was a hint of a forward pass, former Newcastle player Fenby surged onto it, brushed off Clegg's tackle and scored, Geraghty converting to put the visitors back in front.
The lead changed hands again two minutes later as Clegg kicked his fourth penalty, and he missed another two minutes later as Irish repeatedly infringed at the breakdown.
Referee Darren Gamage finally lost patience and sin-binned Hagan in the 54th minute. Newcastle kicked to the corner and drove Richard Mayhew over, Clegg converting from wide out for 26-18 - and it proved a vital score.
Newcastle conceded a scrum penalty for Myles Dorrian to cut the lead to 26-21 only for Irish to do the same and Clegg restored the lead to eight points with eight minutes left and Newcastle were able to play out the remaining minutes in some comfort.