Harlequins moved to the top of the Gallagher Premiership with a bonus-point 24-3 victory over bottom-of-the-table Newcastle at Kingston Park.
Falcons were backed by their biggest home crowd of the season as they went in search of their first league win since last March, but that scenario was never on the cards from the moment Quins wing Nick David opened the scoring after 67 seconds.
Further tries from Andre Esterhuizen, Jack Walker and George Hammond took the game away from the beleaguered hosts, who continue to struggle in the top flight with an under-equipped squad amid financial cutbacks.
The victory elevated Quins from sixth place to the top of a congested Premiership table – overnight at least – with Newcastle remaining rooted to the bottom, 12 points adrift of Gloucester.
Harlequins arrived in the north east without their first-choice half-back pairing of Danny Care and Marcus Smith – injured and rested respectively – as well as injured prop Joe Marler.
Will Edwards – deputising for Smith at stand-off – was instrumental in getting the visitors off to a perfect start when his magnificent looping pass out to the right released David to bolt clear with just over a minute on the clock. Edwards was off target with the conversion attempt.
Falcons remained on the back foot for the entire first quarter but defended doggedly to prevent the visitors adding to the scoreboard.
However, the scale of their task was heightened in the 25th minute when wing Adam Radwan was sent to the sin-bin for a late tackle on Will Porter that knocked the Quins scrum-half into the advertising board and left him with blood pouring from his head, prematurely ending his chance to impress in the absence of Care.
Quins required just four further minutes to capitalise on the extra man as centre Esterhuizen – part of South Africa’s recent World Cup success – darted over on the left to finish off a lovely flowing build-up involving most of the Quins back-line. Edwards – Smith’s deputy at stand-off – was once again wide of the target with his conversion attempt.
Newcastle summoned some resolve towards the end of the half and they got themselves off the mark in the 37th minute when fly-half Brett Connon – on his 100th appearance – sent a penalty between the posts.
Falcons momentarily thought they were going to have a chance to bring the scores level in the last action of the first half when Iwan Stephens touched down on the left, but it was chalked off for obstruction.
A trademark hooker’s try by Walker from the back of a lineout effectively killed off the hosts’ challenge seven minutes into the second half, with Edwards converting.
Further power play from the visitors allowed lock Hammond to push over under the posts in the 56th minute. Edwards again added the extras as Quins were able to enjoy a comfortable finale.