Newcastle Falcons began the new Aviva Premiership in style on Friday night at Kingston Park, flexing their forward muscles in a bonus-point home victory over Worcester Warriors.
A pumped-up Falcons side flew out of the blocks, dominating the early territory and possession as they attacked a vocal South Stand.
Their intensity and pace was rewarded after just five minutes when a lineout on the 22 was quickly spun infield, Alex Tait hitting a super line against the grain before rounding the last man to dot down.
Sonatane Takulua converted from in front, Newcastle’s defensive line-speed getting them out of trouble on a number of occasions as they repelled the attacking advances of Ben Te’o and Bryce Heem.
Skipper Will Welch was to the fore when his huge defensive shot forced a knock-on as the visitors looked to attack from the fringes of a close-range maul, and his side enjoyed further gains on 22 minutes when a period of patient attack brought a penalty for Takulua and a double-digit lead.
That was cut by three when Tom Heathcote sent over a 40-metre penalty from in front for Gary Gold’s side, a score that would remain until the interval as the Scottish fly-half pushed wide with a subsequent penalty attempt.
Newcastle began the second half brightly, Joel Hodgson continuing to manage the game well as he, Tait and Simon Hammersley earned territory with the boot, the Falcons having a dart down the short-side but seeing their attacking efforts thwarted.
Controversy was in no short supply when, after a lengthy deliberation, the video referee awarded a try to Warriors full-back Josh Adams despite the efforts of Takulua and Belisario Agulla in defence of their own left corner.
Takulua chipped three back almost straightaway with a penalty from straightforward range, and was kicking from similar range on 53 minutes when he converted a trademark pick-and-go try from Rob Vickers after a linebreak from Hammersley set up the ruck.
The third try arrived on the hour mark when sustained forward pressure brought a penalty five metres out, the hosts kicking to the corner and earning their rewards when Kyle Cooper mauled his way over.
Takulua missed the conversion but made no mistake with a 66th minute penalty to establish a 20-point buffer, Worcester trying to make inroads but getting little change from a water-tight Falcons side who roared on to a bonus point via Juan Pablo Socino’s crash-ball run.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi (Juan Pablo Socino, 73), 11 Belisario Agulla, 10 Joel Hodgson (Craig Willis, 73), 9 Sonatane Takulua (Sam Stuart, 74); 1 Rob Vickers (Sami Mavinga, 69), 2 Kyle Cooper (Scot Lawson, 69), 3 Jon Welsh (Trevor Davison, 69), 4 Calum Green, 5 Will Witty (Tevita Cavubati, 71), 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick (Nili Latu, 66).
Falcons scorers - Tries: Alex Tait, Rob Vickers, Kyle Cooper, Juan Pablo Socino. Conversions: Sonatane Takulua 3. Penalties: Sonatane Takulua 3.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Ben Te’o (Jamie Shillcock, 27), 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Bryce Heem (Alafoti Fasosiliva, 59), 10 Tom Heathcote (Sam Olver, 55), 9 Jonny Arr (Peter Stringer, 55); 1 Ryan Bower (Biyi Alo, 67), 2 Jack Singleton (Joe Taufete’e, 63), 3 Nick Schonert (Ethan Waller, 67), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan (captain, Pierce Phillips, 64), 5 Will Spencer, 6 Matt Cox, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 GJ van Velze.
Worcester scorers - Tries: Josh Adams. Conversions: . Penalties: Tom Heathcote.
Referee: Wayne Barnes. Attendance: 5,875.
Hammersley, Tait, Harris, Matavesi, Agulla, Hodgson, Takulua, Vickers, Cooper, Welsh, Green, Witty, Wilson, Welch, Chick
Replacements Lawson, Mavinga, Davison, Cavubati, Latu, Stuart, Willis, Socino
Adams, Hammond, Te'o, Willison, Heem, Heathcote, Arr, Bower, Singleton, Schonert, O'Callaghan, Spencer, Cox, Lewis, van Velze
Replacements Taufete'e, Waller, Alo, Phillips, Fa'osiliva, Stringer, Olver, Shillcock
referee: Wayne Barnes
assistant: Adam Leal
assistant: Wayne Falla
TMO: Rowan Kitt