A Noah Cato try and a Jimmy Gopperth conversion secured a last-gasp 17-15 win for Newcastle Falcons over their RFU Championship nearest rivals Bedford Blues at Kingston Park.
The away side had been leading 10-15 up until Cato crossed late-on to endanger the Falcons’ perfect record in the RFU Championship this season.
The Blues had taken the lead after just two minutes through a Myles Dorian penalty.
Gopperth, who prior to the game confirmed that he will leave the club to join Leinster in the summer, missed a three-pointer in reply before Blues’ Mark Atkinson kicked a drop-goal to double the away side’s lead.
The Falcons took the lead before half-time though as a Gopperth penalty hit both posts and the crossbar before landing favourably for Jamie Helleur who scored the first try of the game, to which the Falcons’ fly-half added the conversion.
Gopperth missed another kick before being sin-binned along with James Stephenson following an altercation between the pair.
The resulting penalty was converted by Dorian to give Bedford a 9-7 lead.
From the restart the Falcons’ task was made more difficult when Ally Hogg was sin-binned by mistake after Jamie Helleur had challenged a Bedford in the air.
Atkinson then struck another drop-goal to increase the gap to 12-7 and another penalty from Dorian with 17 minutes left put the Falcons’ 100% record in jeopardy.
On his return from the sin-bin, Gopperth kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to put the Falcons five points behind.
Dean Richards’ side pushed on and Cato stole in on the Blues’ blind-side after Scott Macleod won took a line-out well to put the Falcons level with the visitors.
Gopperth’s late conversion gave Newcastle a 17-15 victory, their 18th straight win in the league this season.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Michael Tait, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 James Hudson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett
Bedford Blues: 15 Brendan Burke, 14 James Stephenson, 13 Ollie Dodge, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Myles Dorian, 9 Darryl Veenendaal, 1 Darren Fearn, 2 Chris Locke, 3 Ben Cooper, 4 Mike Howard, 5 Ben Gulliver, 6 Gregor Gillanders, 7 Darren Fox (c), 8 Don Barrell
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Dan Seal, 18 Ricky Reeves, 19 Paul Tupai, 20 Joe Vandermolen, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Jake Sharp
- Newcastle Falcons Re-Sign Kieran Brookes From Leicester Tigers
- Jimmy Gopperth To Leave Newcastle Falcons At End Of Season
- RFU Championship Highlights: Rotherham Titans 22 - 34 Newcastle Falcons
- Falcons Bolster Back Line With Cato
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