Newcastle’s hopes of a rare double over Bath disappeared as the visitors scored two second-half tries to come back from 10-5 down and win 17-13 at Kingston Park on Sunday.
The game ended in controversy with the referee blowing for time with one minute and eight seconds still left on the scoreboard clock and Newcastle banging away at the Bath line before Bath turned it over and booted the ball dead.
The Newcastle players were furious and pointed to the clock but the referee still ushered both teams off the pitch.
The game had previously exploded into life when Bath went ahead in the 11th minute.
Alex Tait unwisely went for the interception and missed Michel Claassens’ pass to Matt Banahan, who had an easy run in to the corner.
Newcastle’s reply was almost immediate with Jimmy Gopperth stepping through and the Falcons piled in to win the breakdown for Rob Vickerman to score in the corner. Gopperth’s touchline conversion gave Newcastle a 7-5 lead after 14 minutes.
The Falcons could have scored two more in the next five minutes with a deft kick from Tane Tu’ipulotu almost leading to a try in the corner for Charlie Amesbury, and then James Hudson’s charging run should have led to a try in the other corner, but the big lock’s pass was just behind Danny Williams.
Gopperth made it 10-5 with a 22nd-minute penalty but missed another good opportunity just over 10 minutes later.
Bath changed their whole front row at half-time, bringing on England trio Lee Mears, David Flatman and David Wilson, but it was a barnstorming run by Banahan that put Bath on the front foot and led to a score in the corner for Nick Abendanon.
Ollie Barkley and Gopperth then both missed penalties before Flatman was stopped on the line and Claassens was held up by some great Newcastle tackling.
However, Bath stayed patient and former Falcon David Wilson burrowed his way over for Bath’s third try in the 64th minute, Barkley converting to make it 17-10.
Four minutes later Gopperth landed a penalty to give Newcastle hope at 17-13 but he missed another good chance three minutes later.
Danny Williams almost made a crucial interception with five minutes left on the clock and Newcastle hammered away in the closing moments, but Bath survived to take four points from the game.