Tim Streather’s first ever Aviva Premiership try helped Saracens ensure a home play-off semi final after a hard-fought victory at Kingston Park.
The hosts, knowing a victory would guarantee their Aviva Premiership survival, saw Sinoti Sinoti cross on three minutes but Saracens hit back, Streather’s try and five points from Charlie Hodgson giving them a narrow 10-8 half-time lead.
The Sarries fly-half then kicked two penalties to Joel Hodgson’s one to maintain his side’s lead before replacement wing Ben Ransom ran in a 60-metre interception try to add some breathing space.
There was still time for Warren Fury to add a late try to ensure a losing bonus point for Falcons but the visitors held on for victory.
The game had began at pace with the hosts, coming into the game on the back of a 13-game losing streak in the Aviva Premiership, getting off to the best possible start as Sinoti crossed in the corner after just three minutes.
The move came about from an initial inside pass from Adam Powell and with Mark Wilson keeping the ball moving down the left wing, Sinoti then fended off three men to cross, although Joel Hodgson missed the conversion.
Saracens’ difficult start continued just five minutes later as winger Jack Wilson was adjudged to have taken Tait out in the air and was duly sent to the sinbin.
But with nine wins in their previous nine encounters with their opponents, the visitors showed little sign of panic and duly worked their way in front on 11 minutes via a converted try.
With Mike Blair conceding possession from his kick, Goode acted as the catalyst for the attack alongside Richard Wigglesworth, before the ball was recycled out to the right, leaving Streather to stroll in.
Charlie Hodgson added the extras before sending over a 30-metre penalty for a 10-5 lead after the Falcons were penalised for bringing the maul down on 17 minutes.
Saracens continued to look the more dangerous approaching the half hour mark with Wigglesworth – captaining the side for the first time in the absence of Steve Borthwick – controlling things well alongside Hodgson.
They almost got in on 32 minutes with Goode, who was returning to the team for the first time since suffering a head injury against Ulster in the European Cup, almost played in Michael Tagicakibau but the Sarries winger spilled the pass.
Joel Hodgson then reduced the deficit to two with a long-range penalty from just inside Saracens’ half as Falcons ended the half strongly.
The second-half started at pace with Charlie Hodgson sending over his second penalty of the afternoon before namesake Joel had a chance to reply with a penalty of his own but he sent his 51st minute effort wide.
But there was no mistake six minutes later as the Newcastle fly-half again reduced the gap to two with a kick from wide on the right.
Newcastle were growing in confidence with Sinoti breaking through in search of his second try but he found his path blocked just past the hour.
But with Saracens continuing to dominate the scrum, the visitors kept the scoreline ticking over as Charlie Hodgson’s penalty made it 16-11 before a superb counter-attack try by Ransom.
It was hard on Newcastle who had pushed forward towards Sarries’ 22, but with Sinoti sending his pass off target, Ransom gratefully gathered before running in unopposed.
Fury got himself on the scoresheet on 76 minutes with a try following consolation with the TMO – Phil Godman sending over the conversion – but Saracens ran out winners.