NEWCASTLE Falcons slipped deeper into the mire yesterday, when they were brushed aside by a team enjoying their best start to a season.
After Worcester’s win at home to Bath, the Falcons are nine points adrift at the foot of the Aviva Premiership.
Harlequins’ 13th consecutive win in all competitions took them nine points clear of second-placed Saracens, with wing Seb Stegmann scoring two of their five tries.
Quins were forced to make a late change with captain Chris Robshaw missing his first game of the season because of an ankle injury, leaving the openside jersey to Luke Wallace.
Having weathered an early storm, Newcastle finally got some ball they could use and launched two searching attacks, only for James Fitzpatrick to knock-on.
The hosts regrouped and pressure told finally when referee Luke Pearce spotted an offside and Nick Evans opened the scoring with a penalty after 18 minutes.
When Newcastle did get possession they tended to squander it with careless hands in the tackle.
The defence cracked badly when Stegmann attacked up the right wing. He lacked support but managed to break poor tackles by Alex Tait, Jamie Helleur and Chris Pilgrim to score by the flag.
Newcastle hit back after 34 minutes following a scorching break by Jimmy Gopperth.
Jereny Manning took the pass and cut a fine line to bisect Stegmann and Mike Brown before forcing the ball down on the line.
Danny Care restored the 10- point margin two minutes from half-time.
Newcastle managed to hold the fort under fierce pressure, although it cost them 10 minutes in the sin-bin for flanker Tim Swinson.
This led to a siege comprising penalties and scrums which the visitors withstood for 10 minutes – then turned the ball over on their line in heroic fashion.
The clearance kick, however, was run straight back and this time Pilgrim was sinbinned for tackling Matt Hopper without using his arms correctly. It proved the breaking point.
Quins kicked their penalty to touch, won the line-out and 13-man Newcastle could not prevent Wallace from crossing.
Brown then started and finished a five-man move.
Newcastle were energetic right to the finish, but could not prevent further tries from Stegmann and James Johnston.