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Falcons end away drought
Late try from Noon seals thrilling victory
Jamie Noon's 78th-minute try gave Newcastle Falcons their first away win in the Guinness Premiership for 13 months with a 22-19 success against Saracens at Vicarage Road.
Matthew Tait and Toby Flood both touched down as the Falcons dominated the first-half to lead 12-3 at the break.
Saracens stormed back after the interval and tries from Neil de Kock and Hugh Vyvyan put them 19-15 in front entering the final five minutes.
But Noon dived over two minutes from time to end Newcastle's long wait for a league victory away from Kingston Park.
Newcastle showed adventure from the kick-off and were rewarded in the third minute when Tait produced a scorching turn of speed for the opening try.
Flood's delayed pass on the half-way line allowed full-back Tait to enter the line on a straight angle and then veer to his left and outpace opposite number Brent Russell in a race to the corner.
Wilkinson landed the touchline conversion for an early 7-0 lead, although that was soon cut by three points when Gordon Ross slotted a penalty to get his side on the board after the Falcons pack was caught off-side.
The visitors had the opportunity to extend their supremacy, but Wilkinson was twice off-target with long-range penalty attempts as a spate of infringements stopped the flow.
Referee Sean Davey finally lost patience in the 21st minute and sent Saracens hooker Fabio Ongaro to the sin-bin for collapsing a maul.
And Newcastle immediately exploited their numerical superiority with a second try - Flood finishing from close range after blindside flanker Brent Wilson had offloaded in the tackle.
Wilkinson was again wide with his conversion attempt, but then exchanged penalties with Ross at the end of the first half to take Newcastle to the break 15-6 ahead.
Newcastle's dominance of the opening period prompted Saracens director of rugby Alan Gaffney to bring on Kiwi stand-off Glen Jackson in place of Ross for the second half.
The change worked as Jackson orchestrated a concerted period of dominance that culminated in a 49th-minute penalty that brought his side back within a converted try.
The momentum was now with the hosts, and it took a superb last-ditch tackle from Tait to prevent winger Rodd Penney scoring in the 59th minute.
Penney slid for the line whilst being tackled by both Wilkinson and Tait and the video referee was called upon to confirm that Tait had managed to get his legs between ball and turf to prevent the grounding.
But it only delayed the inevitable as three minutes later scrum-half de Kock dived over from close range, and this time the video referee ruled that there was no reason for the try not to be awarded, despite replays being less than conclusive.
De Kock's score reduced Saracens' deficit to 15-14 but Jackson wasted the opportunity to put his side in front by pulling the conversion wide.
They continued to press and looked to have won it when ex-Falcons skipper Vyvyan powered over in the 74th minute to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.
However, Newcastle were not to be denied and got the decisive score two minutes from time when Noon took Wilkinson's pass in full stride and crashed through David Seymour's tackle to the line.
Wilkinson iced the result by adding the conversion to extend his side's margin of victory to three points.
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|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com