Newcastle are still bottom of the Aviva Premiership and they could well win their last two games and still go down, imponderables such as the financial woes or shortfalls of others notwithstanding. That said, the Falcons did themselves a lot of good with a 29-20 win at Gloucester.
Newcastle hadn't won at Kingsholm in 14 years – since a team guided from fly-half by Rob Andrew won on their way to winning the league, in fact – but tries from Ally Hogg and Mark Wilson and 19 points from the ever-reliable boot of Jimmy Gopperth did the trick. Akapusi Qera scored Gloucester's try and Freddie Burns kicked five penalties.
Newcastle are hoping to overhaul Wasps – whom they play away on the final day, and whose flirtation with administration could change the picture as much as the likelihood of a club who do not satisfy the promotion criteria winning the Championship. Their penultimate game is at home to the champions, Saracens, on Friday and their coach, Gary Gold, said: "This is a good bunch of rugby players who are really committed to keeping Premiership rugby in the North-east."
As for how the result affected Gloucester, suffice to say the South West could well be represented in next season's Heineken Cup only by Exeter, which would be an unusual state of affairs to say the least.
Exeter yesterday enjoyed a four-try, 31-26 comeback win at Worcester that lifted them above Northampton and into the fourth and final play-off place. The Chiefs' bonus point was earned by tries from Matt Jess, Bryan Rennie and, in the last two minutes, Sireli Naqelevuki and Philip Dollman; Ignacio Mieres kicked three penalties and Gareth Steenson kicked a conversion. Craig Gillies and Miles Benjamin scored tries for Worcester and Andy Goode kicked 16 points.
At the Madejski Stadium, Saracens were outscored two tries to one by London Irish but won the match 28-19. Delon Armitage scored both the Exiles' tries and Will Fraser scored for Sarries. Charlie Hodgson kicked a conversion, five penalties and two drop-goals for the champions; Tom Homer kicked three penalties for Irish, who have lost seven Premiership matches on the trot.
In the RaboDirect Pro 12, Ulster came down from their Heineken Cup high in Munster and were brought low by Connacht, 26-21, and the Ospreys won 33-12 away to the Cardiff Blues.