Newcastle scored a late try to beat Leicester 25-23 at Welford Road, while there were also wins for Exeter, Saracens, Wasps, Bath and Worcester in the English Premiership.
Before round 21 commenced, the Exeter Chiefs and Saracens had already booked their places in the semi-finals, with the Newcastle Falcons, Leicester Tigers and Wasps vying for the remaining semi-final places.
The Falcons have been in good form in recent weeks, but came into this clash at Welford Road – where they have not won since 1997 – as underdogs. But a brilliant solo try by star wing Vereniki Goneva early in the game gave Newcastle hope of ending that wretched away record.
Leicester did well to pull it back and at half-time, the sides were deadlocked at 13-13.
The hosts came out firing in the second half and opened up a 10-point lead with a converted try and a penalty from George Ford. Goneva then scored his and Newcastle’s second try to reduce the deficit to 23-18.
When Leicester were reduced to 14 men late in the game, the Falcons threw everything into one last attack and in the 80th minute, No 8 Ally Hogg scored to draw level and kicker Sonatane Takulua kept his cool to nail the match-winning conversion.
Elsewhere, log leaders and reigning champions the Exeter Chiefs thumped the Sale Sharks 34-19, Gloucester’s top four hopes were left in ruins after slumping to a 43-20 defeat against Bath, the Worcester Warriors survived relegation thanks to a 44-13 win over Harlequins, London Irish were hammered by Saracens 51-14 and subsequently relegated, and Wasps edged the Northampton Saints 36-29.
Round 21 results:
Leicester Tigers 23 Newcastle Falcons 25
Exeter Chiefs 34 Sale Sharks 19
Gloucester 20 Bath 43
Worcester Warriors 44 Harlequins 13
London Irish 14 Saracens 51
Wasps 36 Northampton Saints 29
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