Newcastle battled to a nervy win over Petraca Padova in their opening Amlin Challenge Cup fixture on Saturday afternoon.
The Falcons were looking for their first victory of the season following a disappointing start to their Guinness Premiership campaign but they made hard work of their trip to North Eastern Italy.
The Falcons trailed 17-10 at the break and 27-24 with just over a quarter of an hour remaining before a late Micky Young try sealed a bonus-point victory.
Ed Williamson, Danny Williams and Lawrence Ovens all joined Young in crossing the Petraca line but the overall performance was far from convincing.
Newcastle made nine personnel changes and a positional switch from the side that lost to Saracens last weekend and that decision nearly back fired on director of rugby Steve Bates.
Driving rain prior to kick-off made conditions difficult but Bates will have been disappointed with the ease with which the Italian minnows claimed three tries of their own.
Former Gloucester fly-half Ludovic Mercier controlled proceedings for the hosts until he left the field injured just past the hour-mark.
And although Newcastle conceded their third try shortly after Mercier's departure, Petraca looked a far weaker side with the 32-year-old's commanding presence at the Stadio Plebiscito.
Defeat looked like a distinct possibility when they conceded a penalty 35 metres out with less than two minutes to play but Stefano Ambrosio slipped on contact and the Flacons survived.
Despite the defeat there was a glimmer of cheer for was Lodovic Mercier who overtook Eric Elwood as the tournament's all-time leading scorer. He now has 482 points against his name.
In the other match of the day Bucuresti Oaks recovered from a six-nil deficit after 10 minutes to register an impressive 21-9 win over Rugby Parma.
The invitational team are in their fifth season of European rugby and have set their stall out for the Pool Stage. They want a final eight berth and have given themselves a fighting chance to earn one with a crucial home triumph.
And it was a well deserved win. The home side were roared over the try line on two occasion by a partisan 1,000 strong crowd.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.