Northampton Wanderers all but sealed their spot in this year’s Premiership Rugby Shield play-off rounds as they scored six tries in a bonus-point win over Newcastle Falcons at Franklin’s Gardens.
A first-half hat-trick for Andrew Kellaway saw Wanderers 19-7 up at the interval and the home side sent Matt Worley over on the 50-minute mark to put themselves further clear.
And though scores for Newcastle through Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, Joel Matavesi and a brace of tries for Tim Swiel brought the away side back into it, the home team sent Tom Collins and Worley over before the end of the game with two fine conversions from guest-player Robbie Povey securing the win for Wanderers.
Newcastle started the scoring as Morgan Passman broke through on the halfway line and found Pedro Bettencourt on his shoulder to finish the job.
And Tim Swiel’s extras put the away side a score ahead but Wanderers got themselves back on the front foot as Moseley hooker George Newman broke through before Kellaway and Worley linked up out wide for a lovely one-two to see the former over the line.
James Grayson converted to level things but there the scoring slowed for some time. The home side got back on the attack around the half-hour mark though and it wasn’t long before they were over the whitewash again.
It was a second for Kellaway as Wanderers worked the overlap out wide and Wanderers added a third soon after, with Kellaway again the scorer - the centre collecting his hat-trick as the ball came wide once again.
Grayson’s touchline conversion sent the game into half-time with a two-score lead for Wanderers but Newcastle hit straight back after the break, sending Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti over from close range.
Wanderers kept their intensity high though and when a gap opened up for Worley, the winger was through and under the posts in record time.
But ever-ruthless was the Falcons attack and Matavesi broke through Wanderers’ line on the hour-mark to bring the game back within a score.
And the away side edged closer still with a Swiel penalty, before taking the lead as the Newcastle fly-half secured them the bonus-point score.
Wanderers were next to strike with Coventry lock Freddie Betteridge galloping into space and finding Collins on his shoulder to dot down, before Cambridge's Keifer Laxton broke through for Wanderers and set Worley free for his second of the night.
And though Newcastle hit back again - Swiel dotting down for his second of the evening and converting his own score to bring the game back within a try - time was running out and Wanderers held firm in the game’s dying minutes to take the win.
Wanderers are next in action on Saturday 20 April (kick-off 1pm) as they take on Leicester Tigers at Franklin's Gardens in the final league match of the season.