There was no happy Valentine's Day for the Falcons as they found themselves on the wrong side of a 46-17 scoreline away to Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
Newcastle Falcons felt the full force of a power-packed Exeter Chiefs side in Devon on Saturday.
A difficult first half saw the visitors 32-3 down at the midway stage, the Chiefs dominating the handling and territorial exchanges as Newcastle were forced to defend for long periods.
Demonstrating their top-five credentials they were three points up in as many minutes when England Saxons fly-half Henry Slade slotted a simple penalty, his pack enjoying the nudge in the scrum as the Falcons searched for an in-road.
Their out-to-in defence constrained the visitors' attempts to hit the wide channels, England's Jack Nowell putting double figures on the board when his arcing run saw him through for a try down the left after picking a hole in the defensive line.
Slade added the conversion and a further penalty, his sound game-management ensuring the Devon side played their rugby in the right areas.
Newcastle were not without their plus points despite swimming against the tide, Tom Catterick slotting a penalty from 20 metres out in front after runs from Alesana Tuilagi and Juan Pablo Socino forced the home side to infringe.
Catterick's show-and-go on the 22 had the fly-half in behind the defence only for the move to fizzle out at the breakdown, Exeter pilfering a second try on 26 minutes when they over-threw their own line-out five metres from the Newcastle try-line.
Slade was the winner of an almighty scramble for the loose ball, missing the conversion from the right but making amends when he added the extras to a penalty try past the half-hour.
That was on the back of a series of dominant scrums, Newcastle able to withstand the pressure for three re-sets before referee Tom Foley matched them under their own posts.
The four-try bonus point arrived a minute before the interval, the video referee called to adjudicate when England Saxons No 8 Thomas Waldrom squirmed his way over down the right-hand side.
A triple half-time substitution offered fresh impetus for Dean Richards' side as Scott Wilson, Dom Barrow and Alex Tait entered the fray for the final 40,
Showing greater fluency and composure they finally asked questions of an Exeter side who will also provide their opposition in the quarter-finals of the European Rugby Challenge Cup on April 4.
Sinoti and Socino offered a sight of their attacking potential with a foray down the right, even if truck-and-trailer at the ensuing driving maul meant it came to nought on that occasion.
Adam Powell's growing influence on the game saw the centre getting his hands on the ball, Scott MacLeod beginning to exert dominance on the line-out as the Chiefs were forced inside their own 22.
The flow of points against had at least subsided, Mark Wilson charging 40 metres upfield from inside his own half in the kind of rampaging run which has characterised his season.
It ultimately ended with a try for replacement Ruki Tipuna as the diminutive Kiwi charged down an attempted clearance, grounding in the left corner for Catterick to add the touchline conversion.
The home side hit back almost immediately when full-back Phil Dollman crossed in the left corner, Haydn Thomas following up for their sixth via the video referee from a close-range snipe.
Fit-again centre Gonzalo Tiesi offered a few crumbs of comfort in a promising return from an elbow injury, playing the final half-hour and showing his international class with a couple of line-breaks.
Countryman Socino exploited some inside shoulders for decent yardage, but the killer pass just would not stick.
Not until the last minute anyway, when skipper Will Welch accepted a pass in the right corner from a multi-phase move, Catterick's conversion the last say on a disappointing day.
Newcastle Falcons S Hammersley, S Sinoti, A Powell (G Tiesi, 56), JP Socino, Al Tuilagi (A Tait, 40), T Catterick, M Blair (R Tipuna, 49); R Vickers, S Lawson (R Hawkins, 18), JP Orlandi (S Wilson, 40, M Irving, 73), C Green (D Barrow, 40), S MacLeod, M Wilson, W Welch (captain), A Hogg (R Mayhew, 49). Falcons scorers – Tries: R Tipuna, W Welch. Conversions: T Catterick 2. Penalties: T Catterick.
Exeter Chiefs P Dollman, I Whitten (B McGuigan, 66), J Nowell, S Hill, M Jess, H Slade (G Steenson, 61), W Chudley (H Thomas, 55); B Moon (C Rimmer, 51), L Cowan-Dickie (J Yeandle, 51), T Francis, D Mumm (captain), D Welch, D Ewers, B White (T Johnson, 64), T Waldrom. Chiefs scorers – Tries: J Nowell, H Slade, Penalty try, T Waldrom, P Dollman, H Thomas. Conversions: H Slade 3, G Steenson. Penalties: H Slade 2.
Referee: T Foley. Attendance: 7,218.
Dollman, Whitten, Nowell, Hill, Jess, Slade, Chudley, Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Mumm, Welch, Ewers, White, Waldrom
Replacements Yeandle, Rimmer, Brown, Lees, Johnson, Thomas, Steenson, McGuigan
Hammersley, Sinoti, Powell, Socino, Tuilagi, Catterick, Blair, Vickers, Lawson, Orlandi, Green, MacLeod, Wilson, Welch, Hogg
Replacements Hawkins, Irving, Wilson, Barrow, Mayhew, Tipuna, Tiesi, Tait
referee: Tom Foley