Roared every step of the way by their magnificent supporters, Newcastle Falcons mounted a second-half surge to claim back-to-back Gallagher Premiership victories at Kingston Park Stadium on Monday night.
On the night of his 250th appearance for the club Will Welch led out the side to raucous cheers from the sell-out crowd of 1,750 – the first time since their 41-0 win over Bedford on March 13, 2020, that Newcastle had played in front of a crowd.
Trademark jackal work from Mark Wilson earned the home side an early penalty, the Falcons kicking penalties to the corner on three occasions during the opening ten minutes but frustratingly failing to convert the pressure into points.
Field position was proving no problem as they camped themselves in the Saints’ half, but they were down to 14 men for ten minutes on the quarter mark when Callum Chick was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
A quick tap penalty five metres out failed to yield the first points as Newcastle amended their attacking strategy, but their defence was on-point on the half-hour when Northampton kicked a penalty to the left corner without return.
The Falcons’ offensive frustrations continued to grow when a five-metre scrum saw no points registered, the home side running the ball wide and finding themselves isolated as the Saints earned a relieving jackal penalty.
It was Northampton who eventually broke the deadlock after 37 minutes, fly-half James Grayson sending over a well-struck penalty from 42 metres out in front following some midfield crossing by Newcastle’s centres.
But the Falcons managed to level things up with the final kick of the half, a sustained period of red-zone attack ending with Brett Connon sending over a simple penalty from in front for a 3-3 interval scoreline.
Newcastle began the second half having to defend their own territory, a task they took to with relish as their visitors kicked a penalty to the right corner without impacting the scoreboard.
Their resistance finally broke on 52 minutes when Saints tight-head Paul Hill collected an offload five metres out to score, James Grayson adding the conversion in a game with no shortage of aggression from either side.
A committed Falcons side drew level on 56 minutes when a scrum-five saw Adam Radwan diving in at the right corner, the winger having collected a blind-side pop from a close-range ruck.
Connon’s touchline conversion in front of the jubilant South Stand added to the growing sense of belief, and they surged into the lead on 63 minutes.
That was when Northampton were shoved off their own scrum ball, the Falcons working the ball left where Matias Orlando fed Chidera Obonna for a dart to the left corner.
The Saints missed a chance to eat into that deficit when Grayson’s 40-metre penalty from in front was fired wide of the posts – Connon, too, missing the target with a 75th-minute penalty from just inside the left touchline.
Connon regained hs composure with a much simpler penalty 10 metres in front to remove all doubt over the result – the capacity crowd saving their loudest cheer for the final whistle.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny (Joel Hodgson, 53), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George Wacokecoke (Chidera Obonna, 41), 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder (Sam Stuart, 67); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Kyle Cooper, 70), 2 George McGuigan, 3 Mark Tampin (Rodney Ah You, 53), 4 Greg Peterson (Philip van der Walt, 60), 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch (Carl Fearns, 53), 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 8 Callum Chick.
Scorers – Tries: Adam Radwan, Chidera Obonna. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon 2.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ollie Sleightholme, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 James Grayson, 9 Tom James (Henry Taylor, 63); 1 Alex Waller (co-captain, Nick Auterac, 60)), 2 Sam Matavesi (Mike Haywood, 60), 3 Paul Hill (Ehren Painter, 57), 4 David Ribbans, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa (Alex Coles, 57), 6 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam (co-captain), 8 Teimana Harrison.
Scorers – Tries: Paul Hill. Conversions: James Grayson. Penalties: James Grayson.
Referee: Matthew Carley. Attendance: 1,750.
Penny, Radwan, Orlando, Burrell, Wacokecoke, Connon, Schreuder, Brocklebank, McGuigan, Tampin, Peterson, Robinson, Welch, Wilson, Chick
Replacements Blamire, Cooper, Ah You, Van Der Walt, Fearns, Stuart, Hodgson, Obonna
Furbank, Sleightholme, Proctor, Hutchinson, Freeman, Grayson, James, Waller, Matavesi, Hill, Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa, Wood, Ludlam, Harrison
Replacements Haywood, Auterac, Painter, Coles, Adendorff, Taylor, Dingwall, Collins
referee: Matthew Carley
assistant: Karl Dickson
assistant: Wayne Falla
TMO: Jack Makepeace