Newcastle Falcons chalked up back-to-back victories in the Premiership Rugby Shield, outlasting a charged-up Northampton Wanderers side at Kingston Park Stadium on Monday.
The Falcons began the game playing at a furious tempo, Ben Stevenson’s line break earning a penalty in the 22 but Newcastle knocking on in their attempt to score from a driving maul.
It was only a temporary reprieve for the visitors, and when a second well-constructed maul took shape on six minutes there was no stopping Connor Collett as the flanker scored in the right corner.
Brett Connon impressively added the touchline conversion, and he did so again when Tom Arscott wriggled out of a tackle on 13 minutes to establish a two-try buffer.
A rock-solid scrum was providing a steady forward platform, and the front-row were making their presence felt around the park, too, Craig Mitchell putting in a huge midfield tackle while Trevor Davison and Jamie Blamire got through serious amounts of work.
Connon extended Newcastle’s lead to 17-0 with a simple penalty from in front of the posts, the home side turning their hand to defensive duty as they repelled a series of five-metre scrums to good effect around the half-hour mark.
Northampton finally registered the try that their territorial pressure deserved on 35 minutes when Reece Marshall was driven over from a maul in the left corner, the Falcons having Will Montgomery in the sin bin by this stage after the lock was judged to have pulled down a maul near his own try line.
The Falcons established a 20-5 interval lead thanks to Connon’s long-range penalty with the final kick of the half, but Northampton doubled their tally five minutes after the resumption when, following a period of patient home attack, left wing Jack Spittle scored on the interception from 60 metres out.
The visitors added a third try when a driving maul spun infield for Marshall to score his second of the evening, reducing the arrears to five points, but the Falcons re-established control after wheeling on a powerful bench which included returns for fit-again trio Michael Young, Nemani Nagusa and Kyle Cooper.
It was Young who grabbed the home team’s third try on 71 minutes when he scooped the ball up from the base of a five-metre scrum to dart home, Connon again adding the conversion, and another of the bench men notched the four-try bonus point when Cooper dotted down from a maul in the left corner.
The last scoring play was reserved for Nagusa when the Fijian No 8 profited from a close range pick and go, Connon adding the conversion to complete his 100% strike rate for the night.
Newcastle Falcons A: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pedro Bettencourt, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Trevor Davison, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Craig Mitchell, 4 Will Montgomery, 5 Glen Young, 6 Tom Marshall, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Ryan Burrows (captain).
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Jack Payne, 18 Nemani Nagusa, 19 David Wilson, 20 Guy Graham, 21 Michael Young, 22 Charlie Wilson, 23 Josh Hodge.
Falcons scorers - Tries: Connor Collett, Tom Arscott, Michael Young, Kyle Cooper, Nemani Nagusa. Conversions: Brett Connon 5. Penalties: Brett Connon.
Northampton Wanderers: 15 Tom Emery, 14 Matt Worley, 13 Ollie Sleightholme, 12 Fraser Strachan, 11 Jack Spittle (Nottingham), 10 George Furbank, 9 Connor Tupai; 1 Will Davis, 2 Reece Marshall, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 4 Alex Moon, 5 Devante Onojaife, 6 Joe Wallace, 7 Paddy Ryan, 8 Tom Wood (captain).
Replacements: 16 Samson Ma’asi, 17 Jack Culverhouse (Ampthill), 18 Karl Garside (Ampthill), 19 Alex Coles, 20 Olly Povoas (Coventry), 21 Morgan Dayes,22 Ciaran Whyte (Ampthill), 23 Sam Evans (Blackheath).
Northampton scorers - Tries: Reece Marshall 2, Jack Spittle.