Vereniki Goneva's hat-trick wasn't enough for Newcastle Falcons as they fell to a 26-24 defeat against Sale Sharks.
A try from Juan Pablo Socino gave Newcastle early impetus but Will Addison, deputising from the tee, kicked Sale back into the match.
A try apiece for the sides came through Goneva and Denny Solomona as the sides closed out the half on an even keel.
However, Bryon McGuigan’s 39th-minute try gave Sale a strong half-time lead. Bryn Evans added a third to send his side into a 12-point lead.
This was before Goneva scored two quick-fire tries to seal his hat-trick and haul his side back into a 23-24 lead. Addison, deputising on kicking duties for the evening, however was the hero.
A 75th-minute penalty sealed a 26-24 victory for Sale. The win sees the Sharks pull away from the relegation battle while two losing bonus-points leave Falcons in eighth.
Newcastle scored the first try of the match after just two minutes, a Joel Hodgson penalty hit the upright before bouncing down into the hands of Socino who showed great awareness to pick the ball up and score. Hodgson added the extras to make the score 7-0.
From 40 yards out, Will Addison scored the home side’s first points with a penalty in the 7th minute. Addison scored his second kick in the eleventh minute, this made the score 6-7.
The Falcons scored their second try in the 26th minute, Goneva tearing through the hosts’ defence before touching down for a brilliant score. Sale’s first try of the match came from the ever reliable Solomona.
A good pass from the back of the hosts’ scrum found its way to the winger who breezed in to score. Will Addison’s conversion handed his side a 13-12 lead.
The Sharks’ second try came through McGuigan in the 39th minute. A Solomona break was cut-short near the try-line allowing McGuigan to pick the ball up and score. Addison’s conversion was just wide as his side went into the half-time break with an 18-12 lead.
The hosts carried their momentum into the second-half as Bryn Evans made it three tries for the evening. In the 50th minute, Evans ran down the touchline before scoring in the corner to extend his side’s lead to eleven points.
However, Newcastle fought back five minutes later with a second of the evening for Goneva, a cracking finish from the Fijian putting his side right back in contention.
Goneva scored again just five minute later to complete his hat-trick. The winger seized upon a loose ball from Sharks before running the length of the pitch to score. Sonatane Takulua’s conversion nudged the away side into a 23-24 lead.
Addison stood up superbly to kick Sale back into the lead with a penalty in the 75th minute to make the final score 26-24 in what was an enthralling game.
Tries: Solomona, McGuigan, Evans
Pens: Addison 3
Tries: Socino, Goneva 3
Cons: Hodgson, Takulua
Yellow Card: Goneva
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison (c), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Sam James, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 George Nott, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Johnny Leota, 23 Dan Mugford
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Dominic Waldouck
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Peter Allan
TMO: Trevor Fisher