A late penalty try earned Newcastle a dramatic 13-12 triumph over Sale at the AJ Bell Stadium as the Falcons made it two successive Aviva Premiership victories.
Steve Diamond’s men played the better rugby in the opening period but a combination of the visitors’ stubborn resistance and their own frailties at the lineout meant that the Sharks went into the break with just a 3-0 advantage courtesy of fly-half AJ MacGinty’s penalty.
Sonatane Takulua hit back for Newcastle at the start of the second half, and MacGinty and Takulua then traded three-pointers.
Sale soon moved into a 12-6 lead via the boot of their stand-off, but there was a late sting in the tail when referee Andrew Jackson awarded the Falcons a penalty try.
Both teams showed their attacking capabilities last weekend by picking up try bonus points, but those strengths were certainly not on display in an error-strewn encounter.
The contest got off to a promising start, with Sale almost going the length of the field in the third minute, but the quality soon descended.
Captain Will Addison was the early spark, sprinting fully 60 metres before offloading to Byron McGuigan to scurry clear.
Although the wing was brought to ground, several phases later McGuigan picked up the ball again and appeared to have touched down, only for the television match official to rule otherwise.
The Sharks continued to create chances and have the majority of possession but, with the inexperienced Cameron Neild at hooker and lock Bryn Evans out through injury, the hosts’ lineout went to pieces.
They failed to capitalise on their territorial dominance, despite MacGinty’s penalty at the end of the first quarter, and were forced to settle for just a three-point buffer at the interval.
Newcastle set out with far more intent in the second period and were rewarded by Takulua’s penalty.
MacGinty responded almost immediately but the Newcastle scrum-half once again levelled proceedings after Tom Curry infringed at the ruck.
However, Diamond’s men upped the intensity once again and their pivot added two more from the tee to take their advantage out to six.
Unperturbed, the visitors went in search of the winning score, putting an already struggling set-piece under further duress, and they were awarded a penalty try when Marc Jones illegally collapsed the maul.
Jones was sin-binned and, despite a late yellow card for Alex Tait, Newcastle held on for a superb victory.