Newcastle, allowed just the start Northampton would have wanted for themselves, led 17-6 after only 12 minutes. Jonny Wilkinson had opened his account - which was to bring him a total of 25 points - with a penalty. He then converted his own try, for which Via'aga Tuigamala did all the hard work, as well as Armstrong's try five minutes later.
Northampton were at their most effective during an eight-minute period in the first half, but all Saints had to show for their pressure was a third penalty goal from Alastair Hepher until, on their next visit to enemy territory, Garry Pagel burrowed over for a try.
That brought Saints up to 17-16, and they would have been quite content to turn round like this. But Tuigamala then scored under the posts, Wilkinson slotted the simple conversion, Newcastle had opened the gap to eight points, and the period following the break was decisive as they piled on the power for Peter Walton and Richard Arnold to cross for tries within three minutes.
Northampton stemmed the tide briefly, but when Wilkinson claimed his second try and kicked his sixth conversion the game was over.
Newcastle: Tries Wilkinson 2, Armstrong, Tuigamala, Walton, Arnold; Conversions Wilkinson 6 ; Penalty Wilkinson. Northampton: Tries Pagel 2, Malone, Metcalfe; Conversions Hepher 3; Penalties Hepher 3.
Newcastle: S Legg; J Naylor, M Shaw, J Wilkinson, V Tuigamala; R Andrew, (capt), G Armstrong; I Peel, R Horton, M Hurter, R Beattie, D Weir, S O'Neill, R Arnold, P Walton (A Chilten 71, H Vyvyan 81).
Northampton: A Blyth; C Moir, D Dantiacq, M Allen, J Sleightholme; A Hepher, D Malone; G Pagel, C Johnson, M Hynes (M Volland, 37), R Metcalfe, J Chandler (J Phillips, 71), D Mackinnon (S Foale, 60), G Seely, P Lam (capt).
Referee: A Rowden (Thatcham).Reuse content