Newcastle’s relegation from rugby union’s English Premiership was confirmed with a 28-19 loss away to Gloucester on Saturday.
The Falcons, coached by former England No 8 Dean Richards, were in the title deciding play-offs last season but have lost 15 of their 21 league matches so far this term.
And this latest defeat left basement club Newcastle firmly in 12th place, the lone relegation spot, 10 points adrift of fallen giants Leicester who will now be spared demotion to the second-tier Championship.
Newcastle’s relegation means Manchester-based Sale will be the only top-flight rugby union club located in the north of England next season.
London Irish will take the Falcons’ spot in the English top-flight after only losing two games all season in the second-tier Championship.
The visitors started well at Kingsholm thanks to early tries from Micky Young and Sinoti Sinoti but Gloucester eventually proved too strong as the southwest side recorded a bonus-point win.
The Cherry and Whites scored tries through Jason Woodward, England outcast Danny Cipriani, Charlie Sharples and Matt Banahan with Billy Twelvetrees converting all four scores.
Meanwhile Northampton ensured the race for the fourth and last play-off place would go all the way to the last day of the regular season following a 38-10 win at home to Worcester.
The Saints marched on thanks to two tries from wing Taqele Naiyaravoro and one each by centre Luther Burrell, flanker Tom Wood and hooker Reece Marshall, with Wales fly-half Dan Biggar converting the entire set.
England centre Ben Teo’s crossed for Worcester’s lone try.
Northampton are a point ahead of fifth-placed Harlequins so will have to make sure their result at leaders Exeter in a fortnight is better than their London rivals manage at Wasps.
Premiership title-holders Saracens warmed up for their European Champions Cup final against Irish province Leinster, the reigning continental kings, next weekend with a 38-7 thrashing of Exeter.
But with both of the top two resting most of their senior players it was hard to read too much into what could be a dress rehearsal for the Premiership final at Twickenham on June 1.
Following a hard-fought opening period that ended with Saracens 7-0 ahead thanks to Alex Lewington’s first try, the north London side pulled away after the break.
Saracens, bidding for an English and European double, saw Lewington cross again with Nick Tompkins going over as well before Dom Morris ran in two tries.
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