Newcastle beat Sale in dramatic game to move up to third
|Newcastle: (25) 35|
|Tries: Green, Graham, Hammersley, Lawson, Vickers Cons: Hodgson 2 Pens: Hodgson 2|
|Sale: (14) 30|
|Tries: B Curry, Yarde 2 Cons: MacGinty 3 Pens: MacGinty 3|
Newcastle Falcons repelled an incredible comeback from Sale to secure victory over their play-off rivals.
Falcons squandered a 25-0 lead to trail 27-25 going into the final quarter.
Newcastle’s first tries included maiden Premiership tries from Calum Green and Gary Graham, while Ben Curry and Marland Yarde crossed for the Sharks.
Yarde’s second plus AJ MacGinty’s boot put the Sharks ahead before a Joel Hodgson penalty and Rob Vickers’ 78th-minute try sealed a hard-fought win.
The thrilling 65-point encounter between the two sides was effectively an eliminator for one side’s top-four ambitions this season.
Just one point separated the two, in fifth and sixth, going into Friday’s encounter. The bonus-point result puts Dean Richards’ Falcons up to third in the Premiership table while Sale remain in sixth, before the rest of the round 20 action takes place this weekend.
The Tyneside outfit face Leicester Tigers at Welford Road and Wasps at Kingston Park in their final two Premiership games of the season. Sale finish at reigning champions Exeter and at home against Tigers.
On an absorbing night the home side looked unstoppable for 27 minutes as they secured their try-scoring bonus point with ease.
Graham, playing his first competitive match since injuring has back training with England in February, set the tone early with two excellent breaks.
The flanker got on the board after 16 minutes but looked to have blotted his copybook in the second half with an incident at the breakdown that may be looked at further.
Will Welch’s yellow card for a deliberate knock-on did not halt their cause, but the Sharks did spring into life. Tries from Curry and Yarde’s first, just before the break, ensured that they remained in the match.
The tables turned in the second half as Sale cut out their mistakes and made the most of their possession. Yarde’s second locked the game at 25-25 before the accurate boot of MacGinty put them ahead for the first time with 20 minutes to play.
Hodgson, the Premiership’s most accurate marksman going into the encounter, settled the hosts after 70 minutes before Sharks snatched the lead again.
With two minutes to play the home side rode through 17 phases to secure the match-winner.
Falcons’ stalwart Vickers surged over from close range and that ensured that their four-and-a-half month unbeaten home record remained intact.
Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Goneva, Harris, JP Socino, Sinoti, Hodgson, Young, Lockwood, Lawson, S. Wilson, Green, Witty, Welch (capt), Graham, Hogg.
Replacements: S Socino, Vickers, Davison, Olmstead, Burrows, Takulua, Mermoz, Tait.
Sale Sharks: McGuigan, Odogwu, S James, L James, Yarde, MacGinty, De Klerk, Harrison, Webber, John, Evans, Ostrikov, Ross (capt), B. Curry, Strauss.
Replacements: Jones, Tarus, Aulika, Beaumont, Ioane, T. Curry, Cliff, Redpath.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys