Nick Macleod won the kicking battle as Sale beat Newcastle at Edgeley Park yesterday to return to the Premiership play-off positions and leave their opponents at the foot of the table.
Sale had taken a 16-0 lead after 24 minutes through three Macleod penalties and a converted Tom Brady try, but Newcastle mounted a comeback. After Macleod and Jimmy Gopperth had traded further three-pointers, substitute Jeremy Manning went over to reduce the gap to 19-10 at half-time.
Gopperth continued to kick the Falcons back into the game and narrowed the gap to three points before Sale's England wing Mark Cueto touched down to effectively seal the win.
Despite Newcastle having most of the early play, it was Sale who drew first blood through Brady. The young winger took advantage of confusion in the Newcastle midfield caused by Corne Uys's departure and, after receiving a static pass from Dwayne Peel, Brady broke the gain line before darting 60 yards to touch down for a superb individual score. Macleod added the extras before kicking a superb long-range penalty to open up an early 10-point lead.
Newcastle continued to have most of the territory but it was Sale who were taking advantage of the visitors' poor discipline. From a scrum penalty, Macleod slotted his second three-pointer. He then added another from the tee before Newcastle eventually got on the board.
Suka Hufanga's scything break into the home side's 22 was unceremoniously ended by a high tackle. Gopperth kicked the resulting opportunity, but the Kiwi's opposite number responded immediately with his fourth penalty.
Newcastle continued to press, though, and were rewarded when Manning barrelled through three men to score in the corner. Gopperth scuffed the conversion but it managed to sneak between the uprights.
The visitors carried on their impressive recovery when Gopperth kicked his second penalty early in the second half. Another one followed as Sale appeared to be doing what they had done against Exeter, and surrender a sizeable lead.
But naivety from Newcastle on their own put-in at the scrum saw Sale steal the ball and feed it out to Cueto who showed excellent footballing skills to touch down.
Gopperth reduced the arrears with a penalty, but Macleod added another to seal the win and leave Newcastle in perilous danger of being relegated.
Scorers: Sale: Tries Brady, Cueto; Conversion Macleod; Penalties Macleod 5. Newcastle: Try Manning; Conversion Gopperth; Penalties Gopperth 4.
Sale: Miller; Brady, Leota, Tuitupou (capt), Cueto; Macleod, Peel (Willis, 66); Dickinson, Jones (Titterrell, 78), Thomas (Buckley , 63); McKenzie (Easte, 78), Ostrikov (Myall, 63); Gaskell; Seymour, Powell. Replacements not used: Cobilas, Higgins, Addison.
Newcastle: Goosen; Eves, Uys (Manning, 4), Fitzpatrick, Hufanga; Gopperth, Pasqualin (Van der Heijden, 70); Shiells (Wells, 66), Vickers (Graham, 57), Murray; Hudson (Pilgrim, 70), Swinson (Fondse, 57); Tu'ifua (R Mayhew, 45), Welch, Hogg. Replacement not used: Frazier.
Referee: D Pearson (RFU).
Priestland kicks Scarlets to derby win
The boot of Rhys Priestland was largely to thank as Scarlets ended their seven-game losing streak with a 22-14 victory over Welsh rivals Ospreys in the Pro12 yesterday. Priestland followed up Ryan Thomas's try with a conversion and five penalties for the region's first win over their Ospreys since 2007.
Andy Saull will play his 100th game for Saracens when they face the Premiership leaders Harlequins at Twickenham today. The 23-year-old England Saxons flanker will play with Peter Stringer, on loan from Munster and making his debut. Giles Lucas