Newcastle Falcons reached the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup for the first time on another day of high drama in Europe’s top tournament.

Former Wallaby World Cup winner Matt Burke may have limped into the game after a late recovery from a knee problem, but he turned into a match winner for his side as he grabbed 15 points to bag the Heineken Cup man-of-the-match title.

Coming into the game anyone of three teams could have grabbed a place in the last eight. The Falcons knew they merely had to keep their nerve and win the game to make it a heartbreaking afternoon for both the Dragons and Perpignan.

Having opted to take first use of the powerful wind the home side quickly took a ten point lead thanks to the first of Burke’s two penalties and a try from Welsh backrow Colin Charvis, which Burke also converted.

That overlap try came when Dragons skipper Jason Forster was receiving treatment on the sidelines for double-vision after taking a blow to the head.

He was unable to return, although three minutes later the Dragons worked wing Gareth Wyatt over in the corner for a smart try from a close range lineout.

Burke kicked his second penalty in first half injury time and the Falcons flew further ahead nine minutes after the break when Tom May was sent streaking to the right corner.  

The Dragons needed some inspiration, and it was provided by Wyatt, who burst through the middle before sending wing Kevin Morgan racing over for the visitors second try which Ceri Sweeney converted.

That put the game in the melting pot and left both teams chasing the try that was needed to secure victory.  

In the end it was Burke who stole the show when he burst through to score a try at the posts which he also converted.   The dragons quickly responded with a try from Ian Gough, but it was too little too late