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Wilkinson rescues Newcastle at Leeds Wilkinson rescues Newcastle at Leeds

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Wilkinson rescues Newcastle at Leeds

Just when the 7,000 sqeueezed into the stadium thought that an 84th-minute penalty from Leeds' South African fly-half Braam van Straaten had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, it was Charlton who went over for a solo effort deep into injury-time, Jonny Wilkinson's conversion sailing between the uprights immediately before the final whistle to see them lifted from the bottom of the table – albeit possibly only temporarily with the other relegation candidates all playing on Saturday and Sunday.

It was a tale of two kickers in the first half, Leeds' Van Straaten showing his radar-like credentials with two early penalties, while Newcastle's Wilkinson uncharacteristically missed both of his attempts before the interval, the latter dropping just short of the crossbar from long range.

The Falcons' defence held up well in the face of some good phase work from the Tykes, who have turned round their form from last season to emerge as one of the most resilient sides in the Premiership, but even after some good attacking play from the visitors, they were still to register a score by the time the whistle went for half-time.

When it came, Leeds found themselves 9-0 up courtesy of a Van Straaten penalty in injury-time, that kick coming after Newcastle's England wing Michael Stephenson had missed a drop-goal attempt in a bid to at least register some sort of score.

Leeds' Scotland fly-half Gordon Ross kicked the lines well and gained territory for his side, and second rower Tom Palmer was again strong up front, against one of the great locks of modern times in veteran Springbok Mark Andrews, who at times looked slightly less than 100 percent after taking a knock to the ankle early on, getting treatment from the physio on a number of occasions before finally being replaced at half-time.

Newcastle shipped on scrum-half Hall Charlton in a bid to open some gaps in the home defence, while powerhouse wing George Harder came on for the Tykes to punch some holes in the three-quarter line – and as the half got under way it was the Falcons who started to dominate.

They were rewarded for their territorial dominance 12 minutes into the half when Wilkinson broke the Leeds fringe defence after four phases from the pack near the Tykes' line, the fly-half breaking right and managing to juggle the ball before finally taking it in both hands and diving over the line, taking a knock in the process but still converting the try to take his side to within two points.

Dan Hyde was called into some last ditch defence from a Stephenson break down the left after Leeds had turned the ball over, with the Tykes trying to shut up shop at the back in the face of some Newcastle momentum.

Just when it looked like the clock had beaten them, Newcastle were finally presented with a chance to claim the vital points, Leeds' Argentine wing Diego Albanese infringing only for Wilkinson to kick the ensuing penalty between the posts and over the bar, nudging his side one point into the lead as it was now their turn to kick long and keep the ball away from their own half, as Leeds had been trying to do all game.

Van Straaten then looked like he had won the game with a booming 40-metre penalty deep into injury-time, but when Ross missed touch for the Tykes it was Charlton's vital try that saw their relegation woes ease somewhat as he crossed the line for his second try, survival now a more realistic goal as Leeds' play-off hopes were dealt a blow.

The scorers:

For Leeds Tykes:Pens: Van Straaten 4

For Newcastle Falcons:Tries: Wilkinson, CharltonCons: Wilkinson 2Pen: Wilkinson

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