Newcastle Falcons began their return to the Aviva Premiership with defeat at home to Bath Rugby at a sodden Kingston Park.
Rain swept across the North East two hours before kick-off and that dictated the style of play with the front five enjoying their moment with ball in hand.
The visitors took an early lead by virtue of a George Ford penalty with the talented fly-half at the heart of play in the opening minutes.
Just short of the 10 minute mark Jamie Helleur was stretchered off with what looked like concussion following a heavy collision in the tackle.
Following the lengthy stoppage, the Falcons looked the more likely to score with forwards Franck Montanella, Kieran Brookes and Dom Barrow causing problems upfront.
The duo of Montanella and Brookes were endearing themselves to the Falcons faithful with their no nonsense robust carries which had Bath on the back-foot for periods of the first stanza.
Sustained pressure merited a Falcons score and they had the chance to draw level six minutes from the interval when Bath were penalised for an infringement at the scrum. However, from kickable range Phil Godman skewed his attempt wide of target and the West Countrymen held on to their slender advantage.
Failing to get on level terms, the northeasterners were made to pay thanks to the boot of Ford, who made no mistake with a penalty 35 metres out.
On the stroke of half-time the Falcons went close to breaching Bath’s rear-guard with a slick passing move from right to left. With numbers on the left Newcastle were unable to swing the ball wide in the inclement weather that was giving Tyneside an almighty battering.
With the wind at their backs, Bath had the weather on their side going into the second-half, but Newcastle were keen to get on the scoreboard early doors.
A quarter of the way through the second period Mike Blair had the crowd on their feet when he scooted 20 metres from a free-kick to set up a Falcons attack in the shape of Andy Saull. Former England Saxon man Saull showed composure to feed Danny Barnes but the move broke down after Barnes’ pass eluded Tom Catterick on the wing and Bath escaped unscathed.
Bath edged further ahead on 58 minutes through another Ford penalty, his third of the night before Anthony Perenise crashed over the line from a rolling maul to put the game to bed. A line-out five metres from the line gave the Bath forwards the impetus to move the ball forward with the big Samoan adding the final touches. Ford cannoned the post with the touchline conversion.
And two minutes from time Mr Barnes awarded the blue and whites a penalty try from a driving line-out with Ford adding a simple conversion from in front of goal to give Bath a 21-0 victory and a winning start into the bargain.
The Falcons travel to the Salford City Stadium next Friday to take on Sale Sharks (kick-off 7.45pm).
Tait, Cato, Barnes, Helleur, Catterick, Godman, Blair, Montanella, Vickers, Brookes, Del Fava, MacLeod, Barrow, Saull, Hogg
Replacements McGuigan, Strain, Wilson, Wilson, York, Fury, Hodgson, Powell
Watson, Rokoduguni, Joseph, Eastmond, Banahan, Ford, Stringer, James, Webber, Wilson, Hooper, Attwood, Garvey, Gilbert, Houston
Replacements Batty, Catt, Perenise, Day, Faosiliva, Young, Henson, Biggs
referee: Wayne Barnes