Premiership: Bristol 27-39 Newcastle
|Bristol (3) 27|
|Tries: Ford-Robinson, O'Connell, Tovey, Eadie Cons: Woodward 2 Pens: Henson|
|Newcastle (18) 39|
|Tries: Wilson, Goneva 2, Watson, Harris Cons: Takulua 4 Pens: Takulua 2|
Newcastle overpowered relegated Bristol on the final day of the Premiership season to finish eighth in the table.
Northampton's win over Harlequins denied Falcons seventh place and any hope of a European Champions Cup spot.
Mark Wilson and Vereniki Goneva tries helped put the visitors 18-3 up at the break, with Gavin Henson responding.
Goneva ran in one of three second-half Falcons tries as they held off a spirited Bristol fightback, which included four tries.
Bristol's one-season stay in the top-flight looked likely to finish with a heavy home defeat after Sonatane Takulua converted Marcus Watson try to start the second half before Jamal Ford-Robinson touched down for hosts.
The score sparked a period of sustained pressure from Bristol, only for Goneva to then pick off a pass and race the length of the pitch to wrap up the bonus point.
Almost immediately, prop Jack O'Connell responded for Bristol in what quickly opened up as a free-scoring contest.
Goneva pounced on a loose ball and as he looked to complete his hat-trick, he passed to Chris Harris to score in the 72nd minute.
And yet, there was still time for Jack Tovey and Mitch Eadie to add further consolation scores for the hosts, who are set for wholesale changes this summer, including the departure of 25 players.
Bristol's interim head coach Mark Tainton:
"I'm disappointed to have lost a game I was confident of winning. There is good spirit amongst the players.
"We made some mistakes in the first half which cost us dearly. We made wrong decisions but credit goes to the boys, they played to the very end and dealt well with what was a difficult game in a difficult season.
"The forwards played very well. We knew what to expect from Newcastle. It was our individual errors that gave them the opportunities and their back three was very good.
"I am very proud to have coached Bristol as a Bristol person. We've learned that the Premiership is unforgiving and that if you make errors you will concede points."
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:
"We did all that we had to but results elsewhere didn't go our way. The boys are a bit down we didn't get the Champions Cup place but they did all they could.
"The boys felt there was always a five-point win there for us but fair play to Bristol, they played well in the second half and are a good side and made it difficult for us.
"The players have adapted to minor changes to our way of playing in pre-season, and once we got that together the plans have kicked in and we kicked on from that.
"I suppose I would have taken this place at the start of the season. We are already planning for next season predominantly with a young side."
Bristol: Woodward; Edwards, Hurrell, Henson, Tovey; Searle, Mathewson; O'Connell, Jones (c), Cortes, Phillips, Sorenson, Jeffries, Robinson, Eadie.
Replacements: Crumpton, Dawe, Ford-Robinson, Glynn, Fenton-Wells, Uren, Pisi, Piutau.
Newcastle: Watson, Goneva, Harris, Socino, Sinoti, Hodgson, Takulua, Vickers, Lawson, Welsh, Green, Robinson, Wilson, Welch (captain), Fonua.
Replacements: Cooper, Harris, Wilson, Witty, Chick, Egerton, Willis, Tait
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