Newcastle Falcons got their European Challenge Cup campaign back on the rails, putting French visitors Grenoble to the sword at Kingston Park Stadium on Sunday.
It was one-way traffic for a rampant Falcons side as they went through their playbook, reigniting their quarter-final prospects and setting them up fair for next weekend’s resumption of Aviva Premiership duties at Wasps.
The home side had the four-try bonus point wrapped up by half time, the men in orange dominating the opening 40 and taking the lead after just three minutes when captain Will Welch scored from a close-range pick and go.
Joel Hodgson converted from in front, Newcastle’s attacking enterprise evident when Alex Tait made a linebreak and Hodgson’s grubber to the left corner only fractionally eluded the onrushing Marcus Watson.
Tait’s early departure allowed Fred Burdon a run from the bench, the summer signing catching the eye with a string of runs and attacking touches as the Falcons played with width. It was his line-break which drew a deliberate knock-on from Grenoble scrum-half Lilian Saseras and a yellow card from the referee, the hosts continuing their policy of kicking penalties to the corner.
That decision paid dividends from the very next play when a line-out down the right saw a catch-and-drive and a try from Will Witty, the lock collecting an offload from Sonatane Takulua as they exploited the space created by Saseras’s sin-binning.
Hodgson converted impressively from out wide, doing so again on 31 minutes when another line-out down the right and a well-worked front peel put Takulua over in the corner for a converted score.
The four-try bonus point arrived with the very last play of the half when flanker Mark Wilson grounded against the base of the post amid a heap of bodies, Hodgson slotting the extras from in front for a 28-0 interval advantage.
The size of Grenoble’s task increased further when centre Tino Nemani was sin-binned for a high tackle on Hammersley, Newcastle wasting little time in finding a fifth try when Ben Sowrey burrowed over from a ruck a metre out.
Hodgson made it five from five off the kicking tee with a simple effort from in front, the introduction of Craig Willis for the final half-hour seeing Hodgson shift to full-back as the new man slotted in at stand-off.
It made no difference to the Falcons’ stranglehold on the game, replacement hooker Scott Lawson scoring from a maul in the left corner less than a minute after coming on to take his side to the 40-point mark, and repeating the trick within a further five minutes.
Grenoble finally managed to get themselves on the scoreboard when centre Eddie Sawailau raced down the right wing to score, but the Falcons blasted to the half-century on 78 minutes when Vickers and Hodgson combined to free Watson for a score in the left corner.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley (Craig Willis, 48), 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Alex Tait (Fred Burdon, 20), 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua (Sam Egerton, 60); 1 Sam Lockwood (Rob Vickers, 50), 2 Ben Sowrey (Scott Lawson, 50), 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Calum Green (Mouritz Botha, 71), 5 Will Witty, 6 Mark Wilson (Daniel Temm, 60), 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick.
Falcons scorers – Tries: Will Welch, Will Witty, Sonatane Takulua, Mark Wilson, Ben Sowrey, Scott Lawson 2, Marcus Watson. Conversions: Joel Hodgson 5.
FC Grenoble: 15 Bastien Guillemin, 14 Sisa Ledua Waqa, 13 Edward Dratai Sawailau, 12 Tino Nemani, 11 Armand Batlle, 10 Gilles Bosch , 9 Lilian Saseras; 1 Denis Coulson , 2 Loïck Jammes, 3 Dayna Edwards , 4 Ben Hand (captain), 5 Mickaël Capelli , 6 Jonathan Best , 7 Kevin Kornath (Loïc Baradel, 40), 8 Henry Vanderglas.
Sin bin: Lilian Saseras (24), Tino Nemani (42).
Grenoble scorers – Tries: Eddie Sawailau. Conversions: David Mélé.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland). Attendance: 3,990.