Jonny Wilkinson kicked a late penalty to give Newcastle victory in a compelling encounter against Saracens at Kingston Park.
Wilkinson produced a commanding display in attack and defence as he scored all the Falcons’ points following England team-mate Toby Flood’s opening try.
Flood’s score helped the hosts to a 10-3 half-time lead but Sarries fought back through Glen Jackson’s boot and Ben Skirving’s try in a second period when the lead changed four times.
Wilkinson, Noon and Mathew Tait all impressed to stake a claim for inclusion in the RBS 6 Nations against France next weekend after Jamie Noon was ruled out before kick-off.
The combative centre was not risked due to a tight hamstring and was replaced by Ollie Phillips as Tait switched to outside centre and Tom May to full-back in one of five changes to the team that lost at Leicester in their last GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP outing.
Saracens welcomed back captain Neil de Kock at scrum-half and discarded England man Andy Farrell at inside centre in two of seven changes to the side that beat Worcester at Vicarage Road last weekend.
The visitors posed the greatest threat in the opening 10 minutes but were unable to convert it into points as Newcastle defended a pair of lineouts close to their line.
After going close from a Tait break down the right, Flood put the hosts ahead in the 17th minute when he picked up Lee Dickson’s bobbling pass and stepped inside to go over from close range.
Wilkinson added the conversion from the right as Adam Powell replaced Farrell who appeared to be struggling with a recurrence of his rib injury.
Sarries missed a golden opportunity to respond when prop Kevin Yates fumbled Powell’s pass over the try-line following severe pressure.
Newcastle responded and would have stretched their lead but for de Kock being the first to May’s chip-through.
Wilkinson kicked his side into a 10-0 lead in the 31st minute following Hugh Vyvyan infringement against his former side on the 22.
Jackson replied soon after in kind with the final score of the first half.
A Wilkinson penalty attempt from halfway dropped well short after the break but it was Saracens who began to establish greater continuity in midfield.
The visitors were rewarded for their endeavours in the 56th minute when Jackson found Skirving with a move from right to left and the number eight went over in the corner. Jackson missed a tricky conversion as Kris Chesney replaced the try-scorer.
Saracens immediately attacked again and took the lead through a Jackson penalty as Newcastle flanker Ben Woods was sin-binned for pulling back de Kock off the ball.
But the Falcons regained the lead in the 65th minute as Wilkinson added another three points after referee David Rose penalised Sarries for offside on their 22.
Rose upset the 8,266-strong home crowd with a controversial penalty award for entering a ruck at the side and Jackson obliged from inside the 22 to restore his side’s lead with 12 minutes remaining as Saracens made their extra man tell.
Newcastle responded and Rod Penney was penalised for hands in the ruck with a minute remaining. Wilkinson’s kick from the left of the posts struck the near upright and went in.