NEWCASTLE FALCONS took a major step towards the knock-out stages of the European Challenge Cup as Joel Hodgson’s long-range penalty secured a 27-25 win over Welsh side Dragons.

Falcons maintained their 100 per cent European record with a hard-fought success at Rodney Parade, with both sides claiming three tries in an entertaining affair.

The visitors started much the stronger, with wing duo Adam Radwan and Zach Bibirige both scoring tries in the opening 12 minutes.

Dragons struck back with two tries from Elliot Dee, and with former Wales international Gavin Henson adding two conversions and a penalty, the hosts briefly claimed the lead.

Hodgson’s penalty levelled things, and with Gary Graham scoring underneath the posts shortly before half-time, Falcons boasted a 24-17 lead at the interval.

Ashton Hewitt scored Dragons’ third try at the start of the second half, and Henson landed a long-range penalty to put the hosts one point ahead of the hour mark.

However, Hodgson landed a long-range three pointer of his own to give Falcons a two-point advantage, and with both sides seeing late tries ruled out, the visitors held on for a valuable win.

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Kibirige, Penny, Matavesi, Radwan, Hodgson, Stuart (Young 57); Lockwood (Vickers 57), Sowrey, S Wilson, Witty, Robinson, M Wilson, Graham, Burrows.