Newcastle Falcons were pushed all the way in Nottingham on Friday night, having to battle until the end to extend their winning streak to 16 games.
Dean Richards’ men at one stage had only 12 men on the field with three in the sin bin, Nottingham providing dogged and dangerous Greene King IPA Championship opposition.
It had all looked promising for the Falcons during the early exchanges as the league leaders went a try up in the 18th minute, captain George McGuigan scoring from a driving maul in the left corner.
Toby Flood added the conversion, and his side found a second try just before the half-hour when Adam Radwan sped into the right corner.
The missed conversion left the Falcons 12-0 up at half-time, but that was only part of the story as they had John Hardie and Nemani Nagusa in the sin bin after infringing as they defended the Nottingham maul.
Toby Flood soon joined them as the fly-half saw yellow in the early moments of the second half, and it became a live contest when home wing David Williams scored a converted try in the left corner to narrow Newcastle’s lead to just five.
USA lock Greg Peterson grabbed the Falcons’ third try from a close-range pick-and-go as the visitors simplified their game plan, using one-out runners to sap Nottingham’s defensive energy.
Tom Arscott converted, but Nottingham found the bonus point that their play throughout had deserved when Jack Spittle grounded from a cross-kick in the left corner.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua; 1 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan (captain), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Gary Graham, 7 John Hardie, 8 Nemani Nagusa.
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Sam Lockwood, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Dominic Waldouck.
Falcons scorers – Tries: George McGuigan, Adam Radwan, Greg Peterson. Conversions: Toby Flood, Tom Arscott.
Nottingham: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 David Williams, 13 Harry Strong, 12 Will Simonds, 11 Jack Spittle, 10 Will Millett, 9 Murray McConnell (captain); 1 Aniseko Sio, 2 Luke Cole, 3 Oisin Heffernan, 4 Llewelyn Jones, 5 Danny Qualter, 6 Seb Cecil, 7 George Cox, 8 Josh Poullet.
Replacements: 16 Jake Farnworth, 17 Tom Hill, 18 Karl Garside, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 Jordan Coughlan, 21 Alex Dolly, 22 Tom Benjamin, 23 Ben Foley.
Nottingham scorers - Tries: David Williams, Jack Spittle. Conversions: Sean Scanlon.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth.