Sale Sharks - 40
Newcastle Falcons - 22
Newcastle Falcons battled for a four-try bonus point from Friday’s Gallagher Premiership northern derby at Salford City Stadium.
The visitors trailed 26-10 at half-time despite making the perfect start and leading after just three minutes.
Ben Redshaw’s 50-22 earned them a line-out in the right corner, and Louis Brown marked his Premiership debut with a try down the left after a short-side burst involving Zach Kerr and Iwan Stephens.
Sale drew level on ten minutes when winger Arron Reed regathered a kick ahead down the left-hand side for an unconverted try, but the Falcons held tight and earned a string of penalties in the home half.
At the third attempt they got the rewards that their endeavours deserved, kicking to the left corner from where skipper Callum Chick scored round the fringes of a close-range ruck.
Sale hit back and led for the first time on 28 minutes when they too kicked a penalty to the left corner – Newcastle neutralising the maul threat but finding no answer as Ben Curry scored from a pick and go.
Rob du Preez’s conversion nudged them ahead by two, and the South African extended that margin to nine when a line-out in the right corner was worked infield for the fly-half to score between the posts and convert his own try.
Du Preez fired wide with a drop-goal as Sale searched for further gains, but they did not have long to wait as Reed was put through a hole for his second try of the night.
That handed the Sharks their bonus point, and after a strong finish to the opening 40 they led 26-10 at the midway mark.
Newcastle began the second half strongly, however, and had their third try on 50 minutes when hooker Bryan Byrne scored from a trick play at the front of a close-range line-out.
The opportunity had been earned by some hard running by Premiership debutant Oli Spencer, with the centre coming on as an interval replacement for a youthful Falcons line-up.
The visitors chalked up the four-try bonus point quickly after when Iwan Stephens hacked ahead from half-way, the Yorkshireman winning a foot race with Gus Warr to collect the bouncing ball.
Josh Thomas’ conversion reduced the deficit to four points going into the closing quarter, and it remained at that when Du Preez fired wide with a 66th-minute penalty from the left.
The South African hit the crossbar with a penalty attempt from 45 metres on 73 minutes, and with Josh Thomas in the sin bin for Newcastle the home side pushed hard for big finish.
They got it three minutes from time when a five-metre scrum saw centre Sam James score from first receiver.
Tom Roebuck added late gloss with a try in the right corner from the very last play, leaving Newcastle to make do with a well-earned four-try bonus point.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Ben Redshaw, 14 Louis Brown, 13 Zach Kerr (Oli Spencer, 40), 12 Cameron Hutchison (Louie Johnson, 56), 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 James Elliott (Josh Barton, 60); 1 Phil Brantingham (Adam Brocklebank,56), 2 Bryan Byrne, 3 Murray McCallum (Mark Tampin, 60), 4 Tim Cardall, 5 Kiran McDonald, 6 John Hawkins, 7 Guy Pepper (Josh Bainbridge, 63), 8 Callum Chick (captain).
Scorers – Tries: Louis Brown, Callum Chick, Bryan Byrne, Iwan Stephens. Conversions: Josh Thomas.
Sale Sharks: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Bedlow (Tom Curtis, 66), 11 Arron Reed, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Gus Warr; 1 Bevan Rodd (Ross Harrison, 46), 2 Agustin Creevy (Luke Cowan-Dickie, 46), 3 James Harper, 4 Cobus Wiese (Ben Bamber, 57), 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 7 Ben Curry (captain), 8 Dan du Preez (Sam Dugdale, 69).
Scorers – Tries: Arron Reed 2, Ben Curry, Rob du Preez, Sam James, Tom Roebuck. Conversions: Rob du Preez 4.
Referee: Adam Leal.