Newcastle climbed off the bottom of the Gallagher Premiership with a hard-fought 16-8 victory over Bath at Kingston Park.
Falcons captain Toby Flood kicked three penalties and converted a Jonny Williams try as Newcastle edged the visitors in a tight second half to collect four precious points.
Newcastle made a bright start with early running from Simon Hammersley combining with a rumbling Gary Graham and then Williams offloaded for Sinoti Sinoti to charge up the right wing. Bath conceded a fifth-minute penalty at the ruck infield and Toby Flood made it 3-0.
Bath had much the better of the rest of the half and looked have scored when they kicked a penalty to the corner and drove skipper Matt Garvey over but they were penalised for a clear obstruction.
Semesa Rokoduguni spilled a great chance down the right when Will Chudley broke from a scrum inside his own half and left the Falcons back row trailing – the winger knew it was a real opportunity.
Newcastle’s inability to retain the ball cost them when Nathan Catt snapped up a knock on and slick passing from Darren Atkins and Cooper Vuna sent in Ruaridh McConnachie for a 27th minute try in the left half corner to give his side a 5-3 lead.
Just before half-time it was Newcastle’s turn to spurn a kick at goal and go to the corner – but it was not the expected line-out drive but a superbly-executed ball off the top from Glen Young for Sam Smith to send Williams surging in for under the posts. Flood converted for 10-5 at the break – a lead Newcastle were slightly fortunate to have.
A 46th minute penalty from Atkins cut the lead to 10-8 after heavy Bath pressure on the Falcons line and Flood missed one eight minutes later – but it sparked a flurry of Falcons attacks which led to a tip tackle on Flood by Josh Bayliss, a yellow card for the flanker and three points from the boot of Flood to make it 13-8 in the 57th minute.
He added another in the 69th minute to make it 16-8 following a line-out infringement and there was a hint of desperation in the Bath ranks as they knocked on a promising attack and then conceded a penalty at the scrum.
The score gave Newcastle a two-score advantage and they were able to run down the clock in the dying minutes.