Newcastle Falcons, inspired by the return of England star Toby Flood, got their EDF Energy Cup campaign off to a promising start by holding Gloucester to an 18-all draw at Kingsholm on Saturday.
The visitors might have actually won had it not been for an injury-time equaliser from James Simpson-Daniel, who returned from a three-week injury lay-off to save Gloucester's blushes.
The Falcons caught their hosts cold within 90 seconds when Ollie Phillips scored a try converted by Toby Flood, one of the few big names fit enough to start for injury-striken Newcastle.
Aware that their scrum did not boast the same power as Gloucester's eight, Newcastle wasted no time getting the ball out through Hall Charlton to Flood, and with Tom May slotting into the line to create the extra space, Phillips was able to cut in between Iain Balshaw and Karl Pryce to scurry over.
Gloucester squandered several chances to pull level after a rash of handling errors in contact.
Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera, while a fearful prospect on the burst, was guilty of a handful of turnovers but he was not alone.
Jeremy Paul, the 72-times capped Australian hooker making his Gloucester debut, struggled to get his eye in at the line-out.
The Guinness Premiership leaders deployed their big men to run direct lines at the Falcons, clearing the way for Chris Paterson, Simpson-Daniel and Anthony Allen to turn on the style.
But the tenacious Falcons forced plenty of errors including a couple of costly knock-ons in front of Newcastle's posts and, aside a 15th-minute penalty to Paterson, Gloucester failed to breach their line.
With Flood getting quick ball moving through the visitors' back-line, they were able to counter-attack at pace and drilled Gloucester back into their own 22.
Under pressure, they conceded a penalty line-out five metres out and the Falcons mustered a sterling rolling maul to put hooker Matt Thompson over. Flood pulled the conversion and the visitors led 12-3 with two minutes remaining until half-time.
Storming back upfield from the restart, Simpson-Daniel cut inside Flood and offloaded, off-balance to Balshaw and he in turn to replacement winger James Bailey.
When he was tackled just short, Rory Lawson spun the ball left but Mark Foster could not stay infield as he crossed the whitewash.
Paterson's home debut was cut short three minutes into the second half when he was injured in a tackle and his replacement, Willie Walker, failed to get off the mark with his first penalty, but nailed his second.
Yet with Gloucester unable to turn their set-pieces into any useful positions and their scrappy defence giving up penalties, Flood added two more of his own to extend Newcastle's lead.
Gloucester finally organised themselves for a late rally, closing the gap when Simpson-Daniel skipped between Flood and Rudd in midfield and raced to the posts for the first of his two tries, with Walker converting.
The pace of the game escalated and Flood or Tom May should have put the game beyond doubt, Flood missing two drop-goal attempts and May fumbling on the tryline when clear through.
Then by means of their determined defence and attacking hunger, and a handful of penalties to help them on their way, Gloucester snatched a late leveller, with Simpson-Daniel again bursting over to score, but Walker unable to add the extra two points.
Tries: Simpson-Daniel 2
Pens: Paterson, Walker
For Newcastle Falcons:
Tries: Phillips, Thompson
Pens: Flood 2
Gloucester: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Karl Pryce, 13 James Simpson-Daniel, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Mark Foster, 10 Chris Paterson, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Adam Balding, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Will James, 4 Marco Bortolami (c), 3 Christian Califano, 2 Jeremy Paul, 1 Alasdair Dickinson,
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Jack Forster, 18 Jonathan Pendlebury, 19 Luke Narraway, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Willie Walker, 22 James Bailey.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom May, 14 Ollie Phillips, 13 Tim Visser, 12 Steve Jones, 11 John Rudd, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Hall Charlton, 8 Russell Winter, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Geoff Parling, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 David Wilson, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Joe McDonnell (c)
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Jason Oakes, 19 Ed Williamson, 20 James Grindal, 21 Alex Tait, 22 Adam Dehaty
Referee: Brian Robertson (England)
Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe (England), Paul Dickens (England)
Television match official: Laurie Bryant (England)