Paul Diggin crosses for the Saints first try of a thrilling evening of JP Morgan 7s ©© Getty Images
Rugby News JPM7S REPORT: Spirited Saints out despite try bonanza at the Gardens
The Saints will not be at the JP Morgan 7s Series Finals day next Friday, despite treating a packed Franklin's Gardens to nine tries and an exciting east midlands derby finale.
FALCONS 28 SAINTS 22
Saints were denied an opening victory at the death after a thrilling Tom Collins inspired comeback threatened to make light of Newcastle's early lead.
Tries from Tom Catterick and Michael Tait had the Falcons flying clear and while Paul Diggin responded after good work from Olly Robinson - much to the delight of a packed Gardens - Newcastle skipper Richard Mayhew's turnover and 60-metre coast looked to have killed off the contest.
Such is the game of sevens, however, Collins followed an electric 60-metre score, in which he beat four Newcastle defenders and raced under the posts, with second in the south-west corner just minutes later.
Not before setting up the marauding Harry Betts on the left though, but with the Saints a point up and the clock showing zero, Simon Hammersley found space in midfield and a shattered home defence ran out of men.
TIGERS 10 SHARKS 7
TIGERS 10 FALCONS 19
SAINTS 22 SHARKS 24
It was to be last play heartbreak again for the Saints but only after a second superb fightback of the evening that deserved so much more.
They got off to the worst possible start, Sale's John O'Donnell going over twice before the Saints even got a touch of the ball.
But on the stroke of half-time Diggin was again teed up by Moseley-loanee Robinson, this time in the Shrubbery Corner.
It seemed to provide a crucial momentum switch and soon after the break the hosts were level, Collins again showing his fleet of foot to slice the Sale defence open after a patient string of phases.
The Gardens crowd were then treated to another fine effort from range, Ryan Glynn this time twisting and turning to evade Danny Waddy during a 70-metre slalom.
And it looked to be as good as done when Collins went in again on the end of his own perfectly judged dink, but having scored and reclaimed the final restart, Sale produced on last surge and left the Saints out on their feet once more.
FALCONS 12 SHARKS 5
TIGERS 17 SAINTS 5
The most attractive tie of the season would also prove to be the biggest, with an East Midlands derby also a winner takes all clash for the runners up spot and a place at Finals day.
Saints started promisingly but just when it looked as though Collins would burn out another stunning score, Leicester scrambled and launched a break of their own, 'Cookie' El Mahdi making sure he went beneath the sticks but then thumping the straightforward conversion against the post.
Not that the mistake would bother him or Tigers for long, El Mahdi collecting the ball wide on the right and dancing inside defenders, just managing to sneak the ball over the line in the ensuing melee.
Again Saints refused to be downed by their early deficit and while they had to wait until after the break, Glynn's deft grubber through for fellow scrum-half Alex Day gave the home side hope with some five minutes still to play.
But when the ball was slowed down well by Tigers in the contact area, David Williams was the beneficiary to cruise beside the posts simultaneously taking Tigers through to the final and ending the Saints' JP Morgan 7s hopes for another year at least.