Win but no rest for Saints
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder admitted he would have liked to offer some of his England stars a rest but was pleased they were able to deliver four Premiership points with a 22-15 win against battling Newcastle at Kingston Park.
Newcastle, for whom Jimmy Gopperth scored five penalties, battled back to 15-15 before Chris Ashton's try won it for the Saints.
"Newcastle are always tough to beat up here and while they have a tough run-in, they will always have a chance when they are at home," said Mallinder. "In a perfect world I would have left out some of our England lads or taken them off before the end, but we came here with the intention of winning and we're pleased we got through that."
He added: "We now have to negotiate our next two games at Gloucester on Tuesday and London Irish away at the weekend."
Newcastle head coach Alan Tait praised his players after they scrapped their way to a losing bonus point.
The Falcons moved off the bottom of the standings and ahead of Leeds on points difference, but Tait warned his players against getting carried away.
"I'm chuffed to bits for the lads but there is a bit of disappointment we didn't hang on for the draw," he said.
"We've thrown away a few points this season and now we're talking about a point rather than points - it's that vital.
"It is a concern we're not scoring tries and it just gets harder because we have Leicester next here on Friday, but if the crowd gets behind us like they did tonight then anything can happen.
"We may be off the bottom for just a few hours as Leeds are at Wasps on Sunday. I'll be out walking the dog, but I'm sure I'll get a text or two about the result there."