Irish hold on to down Falcons
Newcastle centre Juan Pablo Socino hit the post with a last-gasp conversion attempt as the Falcons were edged out 20-18 by London Irish in a thriller on the new synthetic pitch at Kingston Park.
Socino was just unable to snatch a draw for the battling home side, who were ultimately sunk by a controversial Andrew Fenby try midway through the second half.
A break up the left touchline saw back rower Blair Cowan feed the ball inside for Fenby to score to a cacophony of boos from the crowd as it looked a forward pass.
Referee Andrew Small gave the score but then halted Shane Geraghty as he was lining up the conversion to see a replay on the big screen and eventually decided the try was good.
Geraghty, who ran the game, kicked the extras and at 20-10 London Irish looked virtually home and dry, although a late penalty from Socino followed by a try from Sinoti Sinoti - from which Socino hit the post with his conversion - had the crowd on the edge of their seats.
It meant a losing bonus point for Newcastle, but the Falcons side have now gone 18 Premiership games without a win - their last victory in the league coming against London Irish last October.
Although it was close in the end, Irish deserved their win. They had the edge at the set piece, especially the scrummage, and were far superior behind against a Falcons side lacking any sort of cutting edge - two of Newcastle's tries coming from line-out catch and drives.
Newcastle were 6-5 down at half-time to two Geraghty penalties while Phil Godman's penalty into the corner set up the line-out drive for Italian cap Josh Furno to score on his home debut in the 10th minute.
Socino missed the conversion and London Irish dominated much of the remainder of the half with Geraghty kicking a penalty after Adam Powell intercepted and was then caught and pinged for holding on, before the former England international landed a 45-metre shot in first-half stoppage-time.
Geraghty was also the spark for Irish's first try, his weaving run linking up with Chris Noakes and Fergus Mulchrone had an easy run-in in the 45th minute.
Geraghty's conversion put Irish 13-5 up and when Tom Court was sin binned for a dangerous tackle on Ruki Tipuna, Socino missed another sitter when Newcastle badly needed three points.
Newcastle then spurned another kick at goal to go for the corner and they were back in the game when Scott Wilson was driven over for the try to make it 13-10.
Then came that controversial Fenby try converted by Geraghty in then 65th minute which should have put the game beyond Newcastle's reach.
But Socino's 70th-minute penalty gave Newcastle a glimmer of hope which Sinoti fanned into a flame when he crashed over in the corner in stoppage time to make it 20-18, although they could not snatch the draw as Socino's conversion attempt from wide out hit the post.