Newcastle Falcons claimed only their fifth win of the season as they beat London Irish 13-6 in their basement battle at Sandy Park on Sunday.
The opening half saw Newcastle bag the only try through Marcus Watson and five points from Mike Delany. London Irish's only scores came from two Greig Tonks penalties.
The only score of the second half was a single Newcastle penalty courtesy of inside centre Juan Pablo Socino.
The sides headed into this fixture with Newcastle sitting just four points ahead of their opponents. And it was the Premiership's bottom side who opened the scoring with a Greig Tonks penalty.
But, Newcastle were quick to hit back with a penalty of their own from the boot of Delany. Another Tonks penalty re-established Irish's lead, before the hosts grabbed the first try or the game.
An intercept from Watson after a loose pass from Tonks gave him a free 60 metre run in for the try. Newcastle came close to scoring a second, but a wonderful try saving tackle denied Gonzalo Tiesi on his first appearance in over 12 months. After the break, the Falcons continued to extend their lead with a penalty from Juan Pablo Socino.
London Irish pressed relentlessly with several breaks from Tikirotuma and Andrew Fenby threatening the Newcastle line. However, poor handling in the 22 seemed to be their undoing.
With fifteen minutes to go, Irish put together 22 phases of possession, but the final cross field kick from Shane Geraghty bounced agonisingly away from the hands of Fenby. But try as they might, London Irish just couldn't cross the try line, largely down to a phenomenal Newcastle defensive set, but several handling errors on the five metre line cost them dearly.
The defeat leaves Irish seven points behind Newcastle with two games left to play. The exiles host Harlequins next weekend before travelling to The Ricoh to face Wasps.
Meanwhile, Newcastle face Saracens and Sale respectively in their final two games, as they look to further condemn London Irish to their first ever relegation from the Premiership.
For Newcastle Falcons:
Pens: Delaney, Socino
For London Irish:
Pens: Tonks 2
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Taione Vea, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Mike Cusack, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Chris Harris
London Irish: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Will Lloyd, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jerry Sexton, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, Paul Burton
TMO: Graham Hughes