Newcastle snatch dramatic late victory after Sale stage superb recovery
The Falcons had lost a 25-0 lead before Rob Vickers’ 77th-minute try earned them the win.
Newcastle kept their Aviva Premiership play-off dreams alive with a dramatic 35-30 victory over Sale, whose own hopes of a top-four finish took a hit.
The Falcons had looked to be cruising to victory after building a 25-0 lead and securing a try bonus point inside the first half hour.
But Sale roared back in style with 27 unanswered points and it needed a Rob Vickers try in the dying minutes to earn Newcastle victory at Kingston Park.
The win moves the Falcons up to third ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, with Sale remaining sixth.
Newcastle were 8-0 up inside eight minutes with Joel Hodgson’s early penalty putting them ahead before Sinoti Sinoti’s offload saw Calum Green finish in the corner.
Gary Graham’s pick up and drive over and Hodgson’s conversion made it 15-0 and more lethal Falcons’ finishing saw Chris Harris send Simon Hammersley in for a 20-0 lead.
Newcastle flanker Will Welch was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on in the 23rd minute as Sale pressed , but the Falcons still managed to increase their lead.
Faf de Klerk’s ill-judged grubber kick was snapped up and Michael Young and Niki Goneva launched a counter-attack which saw Hammersley brought down and the Falcons pack piled in to drive Scott Lawson over for the bonus-point try.
Sale knew they had to hit back quickly, and they did so with two tries in the 10 minutes before half-time.
Ben Curry got them on the scoreboard with a fortunate score, the forward having the simplest of tasks as the ball bounced kindly toward the Newcastle line after Hodgson’s attempt to stop the attack proved in vain.
AJ MacGinty added the extras and, with their tails up, Sale made further inroads as Marland Yarde crossed following a rolling series of attacks.
MacGinty’s conversion and two further penalties by the fly-half at the start of the second half saw the gap further reduced, to 25-20, and the comeback was complete in the 58th minute with Luke James setting up Yarde for his second try.
MacGinty’s boot saw Sale take the lead for the first time at 27-25, but Newcastle ended the Sharks’ scoring streak with a 68th-minute Hodgson penalty after De Klerk stepped offside, putting the Falcons back in front.
Sale came again and another MacGinty penalty saw them leading by two points heading into the final seven minutes.
But then the Falcons found their form, and they moved the ball up to the Sale line where Vickers was driven over for the match-winning score, which was converted by Hodgson.