- GLOUCESTER 40 - 33 NEWCASTLE FALCONS
Full-back Rob Cook scored 20 points for Gloucester but Newcastle showed that sides should never give up as they grabbed two crucial Aviva Premiership bonus points at Kingsholm.
Cook scored one of Gloucester's five tries and kicked three penalties and three conversions as the Cherry and Whites cruised to a 30-point lead at one stage.
Flanker Sione Kalamafoni, lock James Hudson, centre Mike Tindall and wing Jonny May got the others but Newcastle, whose only scores in the first half were a Chris Yorke try and a Phil Godman conversion, turned the game on its head after the break.
Tries from replacement hooker George McGuigan, flanker Andy Saull, full-back Alex Tait and wing Noah Cato plus three conversions by replacement Joel Hodgson gave them a try bonus point and a losing bonus point as they went down 40-33.
Gloucester did not do themselves any favours when Hudson was sin-binned early on as he illegally ploughed into the back of a Newcastle attacking ruck 10 metres out.
But the Falcons failed to take advantage of their one-man advantage and instead, Gloucester took the attack to the north east outfit
It paid off when captain Tindall refused a relatively simple penalty kick from 25 metres and instead ordered fly-half Ryan Mills to go for touch. From there, big flanker Kalamafoni was stopped under a ruck a metre short but was able to stretch his arm out and touch the ball over the Newcastle line.
Newcastle huffed and puffed while Hudson served his sentence but poor handling and a resourceful defence kept them out until finally Yorke made the breakthrough after a long pass right found the back row in space to jog over unopposed.
Godman's conversion levelled the match but it did not last long as the Cherry and Whites struck just before the half-hour when Cook finished off a sweeping move inside the Newcastle 22 to dive over triumphantly, adding the extra points himself.
And, when Newcastle infringed just outside their own 22, Cook took the penalty kick option this time and extended the Gloucester lead to 10 points at the break.
Newcastle's chances of getting anything from the match, even a losing bonus point, were looking grim just 10 minutes into the second period as another Cook penalty and then a charge-down try from Hudson, which Cook converted, took the lead to 20 points.
It was one-way traffic as Newcastle were denied possession and struggled to get out of their own half, let alone into scoring positions.
Tindall's try, after being set-up by Cook, gave Gloucester their bonus point, before the full-back also delivered the final pass for England ace May, just back from England Six Nations duty, to score a peach of a touchdown.
It was all going perfectly for Gloucester but suddenly the match was turned on its head. The Cherry and Whites lost their composure and Newcastle made them pay with a vengeance.
The Falcons whittled a 30-point deficit down to just 11 points within nine minutes as McGuigan, Saull and then Tait went over for tries. The full-back's touchdown, as he evaded some loose defence to score, gave the Falcons a try-bonus point.
A mistake just outside the Newcastle 22 saw Cook land his third penalty as Gloucester hit 40 points but right on time, wing Cato went over on the right and, with Hodgson's touchline conversion, the Falcons gained that valuable second bonus point.
– Nigel Davies, director of rugby, gloucester
For 65 minutes, we played some great rugby and then, for 15 minutes, we fell off the side of a cliff. It is probably a microcosm of our season where we have played some great rugby but then we have played some average stuff.
The game is on for 80 minutes and, in that, you have to maintain a level of your discipline and standards and we didn't do that in the last 15 minutes.
We knew at the end that Newcastle had nothing to lose and we just didn't deal with them. It takes the shine off what, in that first 65 minutes, was a very good performance.
You can be very positive about it but the last 15 minutes taints the performance. It is very frustrating for everyone and it is a very quiet dressing room down there.
– Dean Richards, director of rugby, Newcastle
In the final quarter of the match, we turned it on. They had some of the opportunities they had in the first quarter and this time, they nailed them which is quite nice to see.
For us, the big thing was making sure we took our chances and, I thought, Joel's kicking was outstanding and the last kick under pressure typified that.
We have a huge amount of youngsters coming through so I am pleased with that. You don't want to expose them too much too soon but there is no doubt about it, the boys will have a big future in the game.
We said, when we were 37-7 down, let's see what happens if we go for four tries so we went out and got them - then we got a fifth.
And the beauty was that the way the boys were playing, had we gone for another 10 minutes, it might have been a different result altogether because we were just letting rip by that time.