England fly-half Toby Flood kicked a last-minute penalty as Newcastle snatched a vital victory in their battle against relegation and prevented Leicester going top of the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP.
It signalled the end of a great comeback by the Falcons who were 26-13 down at one stage in the second half.
Newcastle thought they had scored twice in the first two minutes. First Mark Mayerhofler surged through a slack Tigers defence and it needed a great covering crash tackle from Johnny Murphy to dislodge the ball as the former All Black dived for the line.
Then at the scrum the ball squirted out sideways and Ben Woods snapped it up to go over only for referee Sean Davey to order a re-scrum from which Leicester were able to work the ball up to halfway and safety.
Alex Moreno was penalised for throwing a punch in a line-out fracas but he appeared to claim he was on the receiving end of an elbow and the referee gave a long lecture to both sets of forwards before Toby Flood went for goal but slipped as he kicked and it went wide.
Newcastle crucially lost their own line-out on their own 22 and it led to a 17th minute Andy Goode penalty – much against the run of the play – but it was an object lesson in coming away with points when in the opposition half, something the Falcons failed to do in the first 20 minutes when they dominated play.
The Tigers did it again in the 25th minute and this time it was a real gift try for Goode. The England fly-half’s sidestep left Mathew Tait for dead and although the chance seemed to have gone when the ball went forwards for a scrum Falcons number nine James Grindal lost the ball near his own line and Goode will not score an easier try this season.
Goode kicked the conversion and added penalties in the 33rd and 39th minutes and Flood also kicked two for Newcastle in the 35th and 40th minutes as the Tigers took a 16-6 lead into half time.
John Rudd missed a golden chance just after the break with Tom May’s long pass cutting out the Tigers’ defence but the winger completely missed the ball with the line beckoning.
The sin-binning of lock Jamie Hamilton for killing the ball led to an immediate try for the Falcons with their forwards driving the ball deep into the 22 and Flood darting through for a try which he also converted to make it 16-13.
Woods joined Hamilton in the sin-bin for the same offence in the 51st minute and Goode kicked a simple penalty to put Leicester six points clear.
That became 13 when Leon Lloyd scored a controversial close range try after a clear knock on by Lewis Moody at the ruck on the Falcons line which was seen by everyone but the referee and his touch judges.
Goode converted the try but then Rudd made up for his earlier miss when he took May’s long cut-out pass this time to barrel over for a try and then he chased what looked a lost cause when Loki Crichton kicked long.
Murphy and Sam Vesty looked to have it covered in the in-goal area but both over-ran the ball, which bounced wickedly and Rudd dived to score a fingertip try which Flood converted for the Falcons to be within a point at 26-25 and when Flood kicked a penalty with five minutes left Kingston Park erupted.
The Falcons fans joy was shortlived as Sam Vesty stepped up to kick a 77th minute penalty when the Newcastle scrum stood up on their own ball but then in the last minute Flood kicked a huge 45 metre penalty from in front of the East stand to give Newcastle victory.