A last-gasp penalty from Alex Goode handed Saracens a dramatic 15-13 victory over Newcastle at Kingston Park on Friday.
It was cruel for a Falcons who battled their way back from 9-3 down to lead 13-12 before conceding a late penalty under severe pressure, with Goode slotting the kick.
Newcastle were lucky to be just 6-3 down at half-time after Goode missed two penalties in two minutes before the break.
The Saracens fly-half kicked a second-minute penalty to get his side moving while Jimmy Gopperth missed an easy chance to level four minutes later.
The Falcons finally got into the game when Luke Fielden cut inside and Gcobani Bobo took his pass to shunt off two tackles before the ball was spilled on the Saracens 22 as both sets of forwards scrapped it out.
Newcastle's scrum was hanging on but, with Micky Young always sniping away and feeding his forwards, the Falcons again got close to the Saracens 22 before they came in from the side and Goode was able to clear.
Noah Cato's blistering run through the middle nearly led to a breakthrough and when Newcastle stepped offside Goode kicked his second penalty.
Almost immediately Andy Saull caught Luke Eves with a high tackle. However, Gopperth again failed to convert, the penalty hitting the post before Saracens were able to clear. He was given a chance to make amends two minutes later when Saracens held on in the ruck and it was third time lucky for Newcastle to get on the board at 6-3.
Saracens forced Alex Tait to take a poor touch and drove the maul for a penalty, but Goode missed the chance to extend the lead two minutes before the break. He was off target again after another pulverising drive led to a penalty on the cusp of half-time.
Another dominant driving maul just after the restart led to yet another penalty and this time Goode made it 9-3. Gopperth also found his radar, pulling it back to 9-6 with a 40-metre shot when Saracens piled in offside.
Nevertheless, much of the early second half play was in the Saracens half and when Newcastle finally won a line-out, Young slipped through and Eves surged away to send in Fielden for the try.
Gopperth converted for 13-9 before Goode landed his fourth penalty leaving Newcastle needing to hang on for fully 15 minutes.
It looked like they had until Goode again held his nerve to steal the win.
Pens: Gopperth 2
Pens: Goode 5
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Luke Eves, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Redford Pennycook, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Glen Townson, 3 Tim Ryan, 2 Rob Vickers (capt), 1 Kieran Brookes.
Replacements: 16 Joe Graham, 17 Darren Fearn, 18 James Hall, 19 Filipo Levi, 20 Brent Wilson, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Andy Henderson, 23 Tom Catterick.
Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 David Strettle, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Noah Cato, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Richard Skuse 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Michael Tagicakibau.
Referee: JP Doyle