Niki Goneva's late try gives Newcastle victory at Northampton
Newcastle snatched a 22-16 victory against Northampton thanks to a late 80-metre interception try from Niki Goneva at Franklin's Gardens.
The home side, who suffered their third home Aviva Premiership defeat of the campaign, had to play second half with 14 men after Kieran Brookes was sent off for a dangerous shoulder into the head of Scott Lawson at a ruck.
Yet Northampton were still leading 16-15 with a try from Christian Day and 11 points from Stephen Myler before Goneva got his fingertips to a pass on his 22, juggled the ball and surged to the line, avoiding Ben Foden's last-ditch effort along the way.
With 13 players on international duty for Northampton, Newcastle knew they had a chance of a rare win at the Gardens and it took just four minutes for them to score the first try.
Joel Hodgson sent a cut-out pass to Goneva before taking the wing's offload and diving over in the corner. The 24-year-old missed the conversion to leave the Falcons 5-0 in front.
Five minutes later Newcastle thought they had a second as Goneva dummied in midfield to burst past Rory Hutchinson and then pass for Marcus Watson to sprint 20 metres to finish. But the TMO disallowed it for Dominic Waldouck's block on Luther Burrell in the build up.
Northampton's pack got them back into the game with a scrum penalty, which resulted in three points for Myler.
Foden thought he had scored a try by beating Watson to touch down a kick, but the TMO ruled it out.
Hodgson added a penalty just before the game was thrown into controversy with Brookes' sending off in the 39th minute. Referee Andrew Jackson watched the replays on the big screen before deciding the Northampton player had used his shoulder dangerously as he flew at Lawson's head in a ruck.
The red card seemed to fire up the home side, who scored their first try four minutes after the restart.
From a five-metre lineout the pack drove to the line and after watching the replays the TMO ruled Christian Day had grounded the ball. Myler converted to put Northampton 10-8 in front.
Despite losing Brookes and having to put Burrell in the back row the home side still won a penalty at a scrum and Myler extended the lead to five points.
Newcastle's wings were their biggest threat and Watson looked like he was going to score the try of the season from 60 metres out, slipping and powering past five players before being stopped by Foden.
The winger limped off afterwards but Newcastle took the lead soon after. From a scrum Opeti Fonua charged to the line and, after he was stopped, Will Witty squirmed over and Hodgson converted to put the visitors 15-13 ahead.
A Myler penalty saw the lead change hands again but with five minutes to go Goneva won the match for Newcastle.