Falcons pip Sharks
MATCH REPORT: Newcastle Falcons underlined their status as dark horses in the Premiership this season as they came from behind to win 13-12 away against Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Trailing 12-6 to four AJ MacGinty penalties, Falcons managed a penalty try with six minutes remaining to sneak the win.
Sale had the better of the first half, but had just three points from the boot of MacGinty to show for it. They could have led by more but Byron McGuigan had a try disallowed after a brilliant counter-attack as he knocked on when placing the ball over the line.
Falcons responded early in the second half, with Sonatane Takulua slotting a three-pointer soon after the break.
However, they were not level for long, MacGinty adding his second of the evening on the next Sharks incursion into Falcons territory.
The back and forth continued, with Takulua levelling again, only for MacGinty to knock over a third to give the home side the lead just before the hour.
He added three more to stretch the lead to 12-6, with neither side able to find a way over the line.
For Sale, the line-out was proving a thorny issue, as they regularly lost crucial ball in good position, failing to capitalise on their territorial dominance.
And they were made to pay in the final ten minutes when Newcastle finally got into good position, and Sale pulled down a rolling maul, conceding a penalty try and a yellow card for hooker Marc Jones.
The visitors then lost Alex Tait to a yellow card for an intentional knock-on, but they were able to hold on in the final stages despite plenty of Sale pressure.
For Sale Sharks:
Pens: MacGinty 4
Try: Penalty Try
Pens: Takulua 2
Yellow cards: Alex Tait (Newcastle, 75 - cynical play, intentional knock-on); Marc Jones (Sale Sharks, 73 - cynical play)
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Belisario Agulla, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Juan Pablo Socino, 23 Vereniki Goneva.
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison (captain), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Andre Ostrikov, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 Alex Tarus, 2 Cameron Neild, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 WillGriff John, 19 George Nott, 20 Ben Curry, 21 TJ Ioane, 22 Will Cliff, 23 Sam James.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Greg MacDonald, Steve Lee.
TMO: Trevor Fisher