Newcastle coach Alan Tait admitted his side were overpowered in the scrum as they suffered a heavy defeat to Northampton.
The Saints went top of the Aviva Premiership with a 34-13 victory set up by their forwards' domination.
"Our set piece wasn't good enough," Tait said. "We were outpowered in the scrum and from that base it's impossible to build up any momentum. Either Northampton were really, really good in that area or we were really poor."
The Falcons did at least score the best try of the game through replacement Jeremy Manning, and Tait added: "We showed what we could do with some good ball by scoring a good try through Manning, but Northampton gave us a good lesson."
The Saints only led 10-3 at the interval thanks to a hotly disputed try from Lee Dickson when the scrum-half broke away from a scrum 20 metres out from the Newcastle line.
The Falcons players complained to the referee about crossing and obstruction but their pleas were ignored.
Tait added: "I've had a look and there seemed to be a lot of runners who blocked our defensive line."
Saints coach Jim Mallinder said: "The first half was very frustrating. Our set piece was dominant and we needed to be sharper to reward our dominance, but credit to Newcastle for they hung in there."
Northampton were minus their England squad quartet and Mallinder added: "It's never ideal to lose your four best players plus Bruce Reihana, and it's ideal to take your chances in the first half.
"We didn't do that but we kept our patience and were rewarded with late scores."