Newcastle suffered the first defeat of their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign as they were beaten 32-8 by Montpellier.
Newcastle suffered the first defeat of their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign as they were beaten by French high-flyers Montpellier in Group Three.
The Falcons beat Bourgoin in their opener but they could not make it a French double as they were over-run by their more experienced hosts in the second period.
Montpellier led 9-8 at half-time but the unerring accuracy of scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue, who slotted all eight of his kicks in a 22-point haul, plus second-half tries from Quentin Poumayrou and Seta Tuilevuka ensured a comfortable home win.
Newcastle had led when Luke Fielden crossed over for his side's only try on the half-hour but the visitors, who handed a starting debut to 18-year-old fly-half Joel Hodgson, were outclassed by a team sitting fourth in the French Top 14.
Montpellier controlled field position in the opening exchanges but they had to be content with a 6-0 lead at the 20-minute mark thanks to a pair of Paillaugue penalties.
Hodgson then kicked over the Falcons' first points on their first foray into the hosts' half before they took the lead with the game's opening try.
Chris Pilgrim's quick burst from a scrum was enough to force the defence to over-commit and allow him to send Fielden over near the corner. Hodgson's conversion attempt hit the right-hand post and bounced away.
Pilgrim was proving to be the key figure and his chase and tackle halted an almost immediate reply, albeit after the scrum-half had been beaten to a kick and chase which started the break.
The Falcons scrum then withstood further pressure but Montpellier grabbed a 9-8 lead on the half-time whistle when Paillaugue impressively slotted a long-range penalty from the sideline.
After the break it was all Montpellier, however, as they camped inside Newcastle's half.
Paillaugue slotted two penalties to extend the lead before Poumayrou punched a hole in an increasingly stretched away defence to touch down after 57 minutes.
Tuilevuka followed him over the whitewash nine minutes later and things looked ominous for the Falcons, who have managed just one win in the Aviva Premiership, when Tim Ryan was harshly sent to the sin bin with 10 minutes left.
But they avoided any further damage to the scoreboard as Montpellier were content to add to their opening win over Exeter and go four points clear at the top of the pool.
Tries: Doumayrou, Tuilevuka
Cons: Paillaugue 2
Pens: Paillaugue 6
Yellow card: Ryan (Newcastle – 70th min)
Montpellier: 15 Pierre BÃ©rard, 14 Quentin Doumayrou, 13 Seta Tuilevuka, 12 Grant Rees, 11 Dimitri Pelo, 10 Santiago Fernandez, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 7 Johan Wasserman, 6 Vassili Bost (c), 5 Goncalo Uva, 4 Lionel Dargier, 3 Kevin Kervarec, 2 Joan Caudullo, 1 Na'ama Leleimalefaga.
Replacements: 16 Fabien Rofes, 17 George Jgenti, 18 SÃ©bastien Petit, 19 Marc Giraud, 20 Adrien Tomas, 21 Raphael Lagarde, 22 Florian Nicot, 23 Michel Macurdy.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Luke Eves, 12 Andy Henderson, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 8 Allister Hogg (c), 7 Redford Pennycook, 6 Brent Wilson, 5 Glen Townson, 4 Filipo Levi, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Joe Graham, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Darren Fearn, 18 James Hall, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Micky Young, 22 James Fitzpatrick, 23 Tom Catterick.
Venue: Stade Yves du Manoir
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)