A Chris Ashton try in the dying minutes saw Northampton beat Newcastle 22-15 in a closely-fought clash at Kingston Park on Friday.
A Chris Ashton try in the dying minutes saw Northampton beat Newcastle 22-15 in a closely-fought Aviva Premiership clash at Kingston Park on Friday.
Relegation-threatened Falcons will have to settle for a losing bonus point after crashing to their fourth successive defeat.
The England wing Ashton went over in the 77th minute following earlier scores from Ben Foden and Bruce Reihana, while all the hosts' points came from five Jimmy Gopperth penalties.
The losing bonus point was enough to lift Newcastle above Leeds Carnegie on points difference, while Northampton edged closer to securing a play-off berth.
The Falcons dominated the opening quarter and two early penalties from the influential Gopperth put them 6-0 ahead after eight minutes.
Northampton spent long periods of the opening quarter camped inside their own 22-metre line but in the 25th minute they showed their class. Foden collected possession at the back of a scrum and raced over from close range for a try which Stephen Myler converted.
Myler then added a penalty to put the visitors 10-6 ahead and Gopperth then missed a penalty and a drop-goal attempt to leave the scores finely poised at the break.
However, the New Zealander did land his third penalty of the match shortly after the restart to cut Northampton's lead to a single point.
But in the 50th minute Foden and Jon Clarke combined to send Reihana over in the left corner. Myler failed to convert and moments later Reihana narrowly failed to ground a kick from Myler.
Gopperth then struck two penalties to level the scores at 15-15 but there was late drama as Ashton touched down for a try which Myler converted.
Tries: Foden, Reihana, Ashton
Cons: Myler 2
Pens: Gopperth 5
Yellow cards: Clark (Northampton – 61st min)
Newcastle: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 12 Jame Fitzpatrick, 11 Gcobani Bobo, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Andrew Van der Heijden, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jonny Golding.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Filipo Levi, 20 Alex Gray, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Luke Eves, 23 Rob Vickerman.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Bruce Reihana.
Venue: Kingston Park