Northampton Saints were unable to secure their third straight home victory as Newcastle Falcons scored a converted try with the clock in the red to snatch a narrow Gallagher Premiership win at Franklin's Gardens.
The visitors got themselves on the scoreboard early through Toby Flood’s two penalties, but Cobus Reinach scored a stunning solo try from 30 metres out which Dan Biggar converted to put Northampton 7-6 ahead.
After the break Reinach – Saints' top try-scorer so far this season – crossed the whitewash again in spectacular style, but Newcastle clawed back the deficit in the final ten minutes courtesy of a long-range Brett Connon penalty and Mark Wilson’s try under the posts ten minutes after the clock entered the red.
Within three minutes of kick-off, Newcastle had a penalty after Saints were pinged for touching the man in the air at a lineout, which Flood duly kicked through the uprights.
Saints applied pressure and made several breaks into the 22 through Taqele Naiyaravoro and Ahsee Tuala, but they couldn’t make their mark on the scoreboard with Falcons' defence holding strong.
After a scrappy period of play, Newcastle won a penalty at the breakdown and Flood extended the away side’s advantage to 6-0.
However another period of Saints possession saw Reinach make a break from 30 metres out, slicing open Newcastle’s defence and scoring to the left of the posts. Biggar added the routine conversion put Northampton ahead.
Newcastle had a chance when Vereniki Goneva wriggled down the left into space, but the winger was tackled by Jamie Gibson ten metres from the line and Saints' defence held firm.
Both sides tried to assert their dominance early in the second-half but it was Saints who scored first as Teimana Harrison made a break from Courtney Lawes' superb offload, and Reinach was there to finish under the posts and double his tally for the afternoon.
Biggar's conversion made it 14-6, and the men in Black, Green and Gold came within touching distance of the line once more with a lineout maul, but Newcastle were again resolute in defence and held the home side up.
Newcastle made a break through Simon Hammersley, and despite Biggar's superb tap-tackle the fullback offloaded to Goneva, who thought he had scored in the corner but the TMO showed Tuala’s tackle put the winger into touch.
The Falcons were awarded a penalty in the middle of the park and Connon, who had just entered the field, sent it over from 48 metres to reduce the deficit.
In the closing stages Newcastle maintained pressure, and were within five metres of the whitewash but Northampton’s defence held out despite phase after phase of pressure as the clock ticked past 80 minutes.
Biggar was sent to the sin-bin for a marginal offside and the Falcons continued their phase-play until they scored in the 92nd minute of play, the TMO confirming the try was successful and Flood kicked the conversion to win the game for Newcastle at the death.