Newcastle's "evolution" impresses Dean Richards
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards hailed his side's "evolution" after a thrilling 38-32 home win against his former club Harlequins equalled the tally of victories the Falcons achieved in the whole of last season.
Richards' side scored six tries - from Juan Pablo Socino (2), Mickey Young, Mark Wilson, Evan Olmstead and Marcus Watson - to land their first try bonus of the Aviva Premiership season and their fifth win in 10 games.
In doing so, Newcastle matched the number of victories they achieved in the entirety of the 2015-16 season, when they flirted with relegation after failing to notch a win before the new year.
Having also won five matches the previous season and just three in their first season back in the top-flight under Richards, the in-form Falcons are on course for their best season at least since 2009-10, when they finished ninth with six wins.
"The side's evolving," said Richards, who joined Newcastle in 2012 after serving a three-year ban for his part in the 'Bloodgate' affair while in charge at Harlequins.
"When you look at who we've got out injured, as well, it probably gives you an idea of the strength in depth we've got within the squad now compared to last year.
"The key people who have come in - like [Fiji wing] Niki Goneva and Evan Olmstead - are playing outstandingly well.
"[Lock] Will Witty has been elevated all of the way from the Academy and I thought he had an outstanding game today. And Juan Pablo [Socino] is playing better than ever.
"I'm delighted with the six tries today. There were some absolute pearlers in there."
A last minute try by Quins' former Newcastle winger Tim Visser - added to two by scrum-half Karl Dickson and one by hooker Rob Buchanan - meant the visitors secured a try bonus and Ruaridh Jackson's subsequent conversion secured the added consolation of a losing bonus point.
They represented the first away points of the campaign for the south-west London club, who have won all five of their home games and lost all five on the road.
Harlequins' director John Kingston,who was without England players Mike Brown, Marland Yarde, Chris Robshaw, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler and Danny Care, said: "We're clearly not being competitive enough on the road.
"Until such time as we sort that out, we're going to find ourselves slightly frustrated during the course of the season."