Saracens started their English Premiership title defence with a 32-21 victory against Newcastle, while there were also wins for Bristol, Exeter, Harlequins, Gloucester and Wasps.
Saracens were well below par in their first game of the season and pushed until the end by the Falcons.
Saracens wing Alex Lewington scored a try in each half, but the title-holders lost centre Nick Tompkins and fullback Alex Goode to yellow cards. Newcastle took full advantage as flank Mark Wilson crossed for his second try to make it a one-point game heading into the final 10 minutes.
However, upon his return to the field, Tompkins immediately redeemed himself by scoring a try and Owen Farrell kicked a penalty after the hooter to ensure the victory.
In other results, Exeter scored six tries in a 40-6 hammering of Leicester, while Harlequins also scored six tries to beat a more determined Sale side 51-23. Centre Ben Tapuai scored a brace, while flyhalf Marcus Smith picked up an impressive haul of 26 points.
Wasps were made to sweat against expected whipping boys the Worcester Warriors, as they needed a 68th-minute penalty from young flyhalf Billy Searle to claim a 21-20 victory.
Bristol’s Ian Madigan was on form to give the Bristol Bears a stunning 17-10 win against Bath, while Johan Ackermann’s Gloucester claimed a 27-16 victory over the Northampton Saints.
Round 1 results:
Newcastle Falcons 21 Saracens 32
Exeter Chiefs 40 Leicester Tigers 6
Harlequins 51 Sale Sharks 23
Worcester Warriors 20 Wasps 21
Bristol Bears 17 Bath 10
Gloucester 27 Northampton Saints 16
Photo: Richard Sellers/PA