Newcastle Falcons rose up to sixth in the Premiership after coming from behind to defeat Bath at Kingston Park on Friday.
Vereniki Goneva struck three minutes in to put Newcastle into the ascendancy, as they took a 7-3 lead into the break. But tries from George Ford and a double from Semesa Rokoduguni put Bath into the lead, before a late Falcons fightback.
Mark Wilson and Ben Harris put the hosts into a late lead as Falcons secured a 24-22 victory.
Neither side entered this one in fine form, with a poor run of results bringing 2016 to a bit of a whimper. But it was a superb start for the hosts, who took only three minutes to go ahead.
Having dominated the possession in the opening minutes, Goneva was able to nip through a gap to cross over. Joel Hodgson’s conversion took it to a 7-0 lead.
George Ford saw his first effort fly wide of the sticks as he looked to reduce the gap, as Bath grew into the game following a lacklustre opening.
Falcons were the better side though and threatened to extend their lead as the Bath backline struggled to progress downfield. Ford missed another opportunity at the posts before the break, though he got Bath on the board right on half-time as he finally found the target with Bath going in 7-3 down.
But as the hosts had in the first, Bath grabbed their first try into the second half. Ford went over and subsequently converted, the recipient of a Darren Allinson pass after two previous attempts at the line.
Bath’s poor first half could have derailed them, but their second was dominant. Twelve minutes into it, Rokoduguni went over in the corner as he evaded Goneva’s desperate challenge. Ford made it a 17-7 lead as the visitors turned the tie on its head, and that lead increased further.
Hodgson struck a three-pointer to cut the gap to seven, but that increased with Bath’s third try. Rokoduguni grabbed his second on the break, finishing off Anthony Watson’s pass as possession switched from the flank. The conversion was missed, but Bath’s strong second half was enough to give them a healthy gap.
It didn’t prove enough though as Falcons again managed to turn the game around. Their second try came from Wilson, who had ball in hand under a mountain of bodies to ground, with the conversion closing the gap to five.
And that deficit turned into a lead as Harris had the final say after a drive from close to the line. Taking them level, Falcons tipped the lead into their favour with Hodgson’s conversion, a two point lead with three left to play.
That proved to be enough as poor kicking cost Bath dearly.
Try: Goneva, Wilson, Harris
Cons: Hodgson 3
Tries: Ford, Rokoduguni 2
Cons: Ford 2
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Will Witty, 20 Sean Robinson, 21 Michael Young, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Fred Burdon
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 George Ford (c), 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Robbie Fruean
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: John Meredith, Wayne Falla
TMO: Keith Lewis