Newcastle Falcons - 14
Northampton Saints - 16
Newcastle Falcons had to make do with a losing bonus point despite a late surge of pressure during Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership visit of Northampton Saints.
A late try from Iwan Stephens in the left corner handed the home side a chance to draw level five minutes from time, but the touchline conversion bounced back off the post.
There had been no separating the two teams with a 6-6 score-line at half-time, Brett Connon and Fin Smith each sending over a pair of penalties apiece.
It was the home side who enjoyed the better of the early territory and possession, although they had to wait until the 11th minute to make it count on the scoreboard when Connon slotted a penalty from the right-hand side.
The Falcons by that stage had already kicked a penalty to the corner without return, with another day of driving rain making handling conditions difficult for both sets of players.
Northampton levelled the scores on 16 minutes when Smith chipped over a simple penalty from the 22 after an infringement at scrum time, but Newcastle still tried to play despite the conditions as Iwan Stephens and Adam Radwan combined down the left.
The hosts nudged back in front on 27 minutes when their scrum dominance manifested itself with a penalty attempt 40 metres out down the right – Connon taming the conditions to bisect the posts.
The fly-half chipped over the top of the onrushing to defence to try and prise open a further attacking opportunity around the half-hour, only for possession to once again be lost in contact.
Newcastle kicked a penalty to the left corner only to lose the resulting line-out in prime attacking position, and the sides were level again at half-time when a careless penalty conceded in front of their own posts allowed Smith to take the simple three.
The Falcons missed out an opportunity to take the lead seven minutes into the second half when Connon’s long-range penalty from the right-hand side was pushed fractionally wide – his pack’s ongoing scrum dominance having earned him the pop at goal.
Northampton led for the first time on 55 minutes when Tom Pearson’s line-break and offload allowed Curtis Langdon to score to the right of the posts, Smith adding the straightforward conversion.
Connon’s penalty third penalty reduced their advantage to four points on the hour mark, only for Smith to reply from close range, but there was more drama ahead.
A string of red-zone penalties for Newcastle ended with a Iwan Stephens try in the left corner from a long cut-out pass, handing Connon a touchline conversion to draw level.
The kick agonisingly bounced back off the woodwork, leaving his side to content themselves with a second losing bonus point of the season.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo (Matias Orlando, 52), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart (Hugh O’Sullivan, 66); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Phil Brantingham, 59), 2 Jamie Blamire (Bryan Byrne, 59), 3 Mark Tampin (Murray McCallum, 55), 4 Philip van der Walt (John Hawkins, 63), 5 Sebastian de Chaves (Kiran McDonald, 63), 6 Sam Cross (Freddie Lockwood, 61), 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Callum Chick (captain).
Scorers – Tries: Iwan Stephens. Penalties: Brett Connon 3.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank (captain), 14 Tom Seabrook, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 George Hendy, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Tom James; 1 Ethan Waller (Alex Waller, 47), 2 Curtis Langdon (Tom Cruse, 70), 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Chunya Munga, 5 Alex Coles, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Sam Graham.
Scorers – Tries: Curtis Langdon. Conversions: Fin Smith. Penalties: Fin Smith 2.
Referee: Hamish Smales. Attendance: 5,124.