Gallagher Premiership champions Harlequins claimed victory from an entertaining opening game of the new season on Sunday at Kingston Park Stadium.
The Londoners led 14-12 at half-time and had enough to hold on against a Falcons side who threw absolutely everything at them - at least earning the consolation of a bonus point through Will Haydon-Wood's last-minute penalty.
Newcastle began with no shortage of forward power, and thought they had the first try of the game on seven minutes when a huge touchfinder from Brett Connon handed them an attacking lineout five metres out.
The resulting catch-and-drive saw the TMO called in to rule on a try in the right corner, Andrew Jackson not finding the killer angle as the play went unrewarded.
Quins, too, saw their early efforts frustrated when a forward pass denied Andre Esterhuizen a try in the left corner, but they regrouped and finally broke the deadlock on 11 minutes when Louis ynagh clawed in a long, looping pass for a converted try in the right corner.
The Londoners doubled their lead on 21 minutes when centre Joe Marchant crossed down the right-hand side, fly-half Tommy Allan providing the run and offload before adding the conversion.
Newcastle hit back straight from the restart, Adam Radwan collecting a Brett Connon pass to dive in at the right corner after strong forward carries from Trevor Davison and George McGuigan down the left.
Connon’s touchline conversion thudded back off the post to leave the deficit at nine points, but he had no such worries less than five minutes later with a much simpler conversion from in front.
That was all after Iwan Stephens scored a dream debut try, the former Leeds Rhinos rugby league wing rewarded for a super support line after a trademark jinking run from Radwan which saw the England man beating four defenders with pace and footwork.
Newcastle ended the half strongly, enjoying a spell of late pressure which saw Logovi’i Mulipola’s claims for a close-range try denied, leaving Harlequins 14-12 ahead at the interval.
An end-to-end start to the second half continued the high entertainment level being served up to the 6,114-strong crowd – Adam Radwan denied an interception try on 42 minutes when play was pulled back for an earlier knock on.
Quins turned it into a double blow by registering a try of their own, Lynagh grounding in the right corner for the second time of the afternoon to extend his side’s advantage to seven.
Newcastle, however, were in no mood to lie down, and chipped five off that margin on 55 minutes when Sean Robinson’s interception handed Louis Schreuder a 50-metre dash to the left corner.
The see-saw scoring pattern continued on the hour mark when Schreuder’s opposite number Danny Care sniped in for Quins’ bonus-point try from the fringes of a ruck in front of the posts, Allan adding the simple conversion.
It took a last-ditch tackle to deny Iwan Stephens a second debut try as the Falcons looked to hit back instantly, the winger jinking his way to the left corner only to be forced out in the act of scoring.
Radwan kept up the momentum with another scorching run down the short-side with five minutes to go, and when Will Haydon-Wood slotted a 40-metre penalty with the last play of the game they at least had the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Brett Connon (Will Haydon-Wood, 73), 9 Louis Schreuder (Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 73); 1 Logovi’i Mulipola (Kyle Cooper, 55), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 66), 3 Trevor Davison (Mark Tampin, 51), 4 Greg Peterson (Marco Fuser, 66), 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Philip van der Walt (Connor Collett, 73), 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Carl Fearns.
Scorers – Tries: Iwan Stephens, Adam Radwan, Louis Schreuder. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Will Haydon-Wood.
Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen (Huw Jones, 74), 11 Cadan Murley (Luke Northmore, 55), 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Danny Care; 1 Santiago Garcia Botta (Joe Marler, 51), 2 Jack Walker (Sam Riley, 68), 3 Simon Kerrod, 4 Matt Symons (Hugh Tizard, 64), 5 Dino Lamb, 6 Tom Lawday (Archie White, 71), 7 Jack Kenningham, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain).
Scorers – Tries: Louis Lynagh 2, Joe Marchant, Danny Care. Conversions: Tommy Allan 3.
Referee: Tom Foley. Attendance: 6,114.
Penny, Radwan, Stevenson, Lucock, Stephens, Connon, Schreuder, Mulipola, McGuigan, Davison, Peterson, Robinson, van der Walt, Welch, Fearns
Replacements Blamire, Cooper, Tampin, Fuser, Collett, Nordli-Kelemeti, Haydon-Wood, Wacokecoke
Green, Lynagh, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Murley, Allan, Care, Garcia Botta, Walker, Kerrod, Symons, Lamb, Lawday, Kenningham, Dombrandt
Replacements Riley, Marler, Trenier, Tizard, White, Steele, Jones, Northmore
TMO: Andrew Jackson
referee: Tom Foley
assistant: Paul Dix
assistant: Jamie Leahy