Shane Geraghty’s second-half introduction injected life into London Irish but the hosts were made to stave off a spirited Newcastle Falcons comeback before completing a crucial victory.
After a first 40 which saw Irish fly-half Chris Noakes slot two penalties, Alex Lewington collected Geraghty’s kick-off and raced over in an explosive start to the second half.
Three minutes later Geraghty, who had immediately set about bringing flair to proceedings after replacing Noakes, then lofted skywards for Topsy Ojo to collect and dot down for his first try since March 2014.
Falcons responded through a try for Nili Latu before Andy Goode – making his first Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance since signing a short-term contract with Newcastle last month – came on for the visitors and kicked a penalty.
He converted Marcus Watson's 66th-minute score but the Exiles held on to move off the bottom of the table at the expense of Newcastle.
Though Newcastle started on top, Latu made a high tackle on Will Lloyd with eight minutes gone and former Auckland Blues fly-half Noakes made no mistake from straight in front.
The hosts cut open the Falcons defence ten minutes later when Lewington came off his wing with a fantastic angle to join a flowing backs move.
He was dragged down ten metres short of the line, and the Falcons were offside from one of the resulting rucks, only for Noakes to badly miscue the penalty attempt.
Irish did extend their lead 11 minutes before half-time when Falcons prop Rob Vickers was adjudged to have collapsed a scrum and Noakes’s penalty sailed straight through the uprights.
The Falcons thought they were on the scoreboard four minutes later when Topsy Ojo failed to deal with a grubber kick through, however Chris Harris could not quite get downward pressure on the ball.
The away side had the opportunity to close the gap to three points five minutes before half-time when the Exiles strayed offside at a line-out, but Craig Willis’s kick was just wide of the posts from 35 metres out.
The second half started with a bang as Lewington rose above Harris to collect substitute Geraghty’s restart and he ran into the corner unopposed to touch down. Geraghty then added the extras from out wide.
Geraghty then hung up the high ball Ojo, and despite the best attentions of Simon Hammersley, Irish’s leading all-time try scorer managed to get the ball down. Geraghty made no mistakes with the extras to put his side 20 points ahead.
Falcons registered their first points in the 55th minute after a sustained period of pressure deep in Irish’s 22,
Latu broke off the end of a driving maul and barged his way over, but Willis failed with his conversion attempt and the away side still trailed by 15 points.
Paice was sent to the sin-bin on the hour mark for a high tackle and and Goode kicked the simple resulting penalty.
Watson scored his first Premiership try of the season six minutes later when ran onto the end of a Hammersley kick through. Goode’s conversion sailed through the uprights but, despite late heavy pressure, Newcastle could not complete the turnaround.
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