England cap Toby Flood led Newcastle to victory over GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP champions Sale Sharks at Kingston Park on Boxing Day.
Flood kicked four penalties and converted all four of Newcastle’s tries as Sale tumbled to a 40-25 defeat.
Newcastle made an impressive start with a try in just under two minutes after a solid drive by the pack and then two long passes from Flood and Mathew Tait, the latter finding Anthony Elliott surging into the line from full-back to score wide out. Flood’s conversion made it 7-0.
The Falcons handed three points straight back when Flood kicked poorly from defence and Sale ran it back through Sebastien Bruno and Newcastle stepped offside for Lee Thomas to kick the penalty.
Thomas missed another two in quick succession soon afterwards as Newcastle found themselves under the cosh and unable to win the ball. When they did it was Sale’s turn to feel the pressure as both John Rudd and Ben Woods almost broke through.
But Woods’ knock-on handed the ball back to Sale and they capitalised immediately with Mark Taylor’s inside pass down the blindside sending Chris Bell clear and he put Chris Mayor in the corner for Sale to lead 8-7.
But then Newcastle scored another scintillating try with Tait and Flood showing delightful hands in a pop pass move.
Tom May hared through the gap and Flood kicked another cracking conversion.
May’s score was followed by one even better with Flood chipping, juggling the re-take and in the traffic and slipping the ball to Tait who accelerated away to score under the posts.
Newcastle led 21-8 after Daniel Larrachea missed a long-range penalty for Sale.
Sale struck twice with two tries in four minutes just before half-time with Larrachea electing to go for the corner with the next penalty.
Although Newcastle initially defended the drive, Sebastien Bruno squirmed over from the pick and drive close to the line.
Sebastien Chabal’s thundering run set up another goal-line siege and the ball was eventually whipped out wide for Mayor to score his second try which made it 21-18 at the break after Larrachea missed the conversion – the sixth kick at goal missed by Sale.
By contrast, Flood kept his 100 per cent record with a penalty one minute after the break and then another from long range after Bruno was sin-binned in the 44th minute for having a prolonged go at Elliott as he lay on top of the trapped Newcastle full-back.
Larrachea missed yet another penalty, this time from in front of the posts and Flood landed a third penalty to stretch Newcastle’s lead to 30-18.
Chris Bell’s long outside run and Richard Wigglesworth’s conversion put Sale right back in the mix at 30-25 with 14 minutes left on the clock.
It was 33-25 with seven minutes left when Flood kicked his fourth penalty.
And, when Wigglesworth missed Sale’s eighth kick at goal with five minutes left, Newcastle scented victory.
With 11 seconds on the clock, Rudd barrelled through on the left for the Falcons’ fourth try and the bonus point – and Flood kicked the conversion for a 100 per cent record.