Jonny rotten for Saints
Jonny Wilkinson marked his return to action from shoulder surgery with 22 points as Newcastle beat Northampton 32-22.
Last Updated: 15/09/08 4:12pm
Jonny Wilkinson marked his return to action from shoulder surgery with 22 points as Newcastle recorded a 29-22 victory over Northampton.
The England fly-half managed a 100 percent record with the boot, kicking three penalties, two conversions and a drop goal, to help the Falcons get their first win of the campaign.
He also had a hand in one of the home side's two tries, though often Newcastle were too eager to kick away what possession they had.
Saints only managed one try themselves, from Sean Lamont, in a scrappy Guinness Premiership encounter at Kingston Park that failed to hit the heights.
It was the visitors who held a deserved 12-6 lead at the break, captain Bruce Reihana kicking three penalties but missing two other opportunities to give his team a more comfortable cushion at the interval.
Fly-half Carlos Spencer did slot over a penalty attempt of his own but it was his tactical kicking that was most impressive, the former New Zealand international constantly putting the Falcons' back three under pressure.
In reply Newcastle managed only two Wilkinson penalties but they seized control of the contest at the start of the second half.
Deciding at last to keep the ball alive, the hosts were put in a strong position by a good surge by centre Jamie Noon that led to Alex Tait setting up second-rower Andy Buist in the corner.
The touchline conversion proved to be no problem for Wilkinson, who added three more points to his personal haul after Scotland prop Euan Murray had been sin-binned for taking out a support runner.
Not content with his kicking display he showed what he's capable of in open play, working a superb give-and-take pass on the hour to set up Ollie Phillips.
Having managed only a Reihana penalty so far in the second half, Saints suddenly came alive when Lamont scythed through from a maul to race in under the posts, leaving an easy conversion for his skipper.
However, Reihana was unable to land a shot at the posts following a yellow card for Phillips for going to the floor at a ruck and it was fittingly left to Wilkinson to have the final say.
His third penalty pushed the Falcons seven clear and a right-footed 45-yard drop goal in the closing minute made sure of a home victory.