Falcons 17 Harlequins 38

Saturday 5 January 2019

A nightmare first half gave Newcastle Falcons too much work to do as Harlequins took all five points from Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership encounter at Kingston Park Stadium.

Trailing 28-3 at half-time, it was a first half to forget with a four-try bonus point conceded prior to the interval.

The Falcons had shown signs of promise during the first few minutes, keeping the ball in hand and finding gains in the wide left channel through Will Witty as the fit-again lock was found by a well-weighted pass from Tom Arscott for an early incursion.

But they found themselves a try down inside five minutes when the visitors kicked a penalty to the right corner and scored from a front peel, hooker Max Crumpton the man to dot down, Marcus Smith adding the touchline conversion.

Brett Connon chipped three back with a simple penalty from in front as Harlequins were punished for a high tackle from a period of flowing Newcastle attack, but when Connon’s second penalty attempt bounced back off the right post there was a double blow for the home side with Nathan Earle going the length to score a converted try from the rebound.

A try-saving tackle from Vereniki Goneva prevented a third touch-down on 24 minutes when Joe Marchant broke down the left, Connon getting Newcastle into the right areas with a huge kick to the right corner but his team-mates unable to make the territory count after knocking on in the tackle.

The visitors eventually found their third score on 35 minutes, again profiting from a Newcastle knock-on in Harlequins’ red zone, the Londoners kicking downfield and finding points via Gabriel Ibitoye down the right despite Callum Chick having hauled down Joe Marchant on his own 22.

Smith’s touchline conversion put Quins 18 up, and they took a 28-3 lead into the changing rooms when Jack Clifford scored a converted try in the left corner with the final play of the half, the Falcons having withstood a barrage of goal-line pick-and-go play before the ball was spun wide.

The scoring pattern continued after the break when Alex Dombramdt grounded Harlequins’ fifth try, this time from the base of a five-metre scrum after a sequence of penalties in the Newcastle 22.

But the home side finally found their way over the try-line on 50 minutes when they kicked a penalty to the left corner, their driving maul sucking in the numbers before Connon’s long, looping pass found Goneva, who finished brilliantly in the right corner amid heavy traffic.

Connon converted from the right touchline, and did so again from in front on 64 minutes after Callum Chick had scored between the posts, Newcastle kicking a penalty to the right corner and working play infield from the lineout.

Any hopes of a comeback were extinguished on 70 minutes when Smith slotted a penalty for the visitors from 30 metres out, Newcastle left empty-handed following a difficult afternoon.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley (Tim Swiel, 57), 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi (Pedro Bettencourt, 57), 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (Sonatane Takulua, 50); 1 Trevor Davison (Adam Brocklebank, 45), 2 Kyle Cooper (Santiago Socino, 45), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola (David Wilson, 34), 4 Calum Green, 5 Will Witty (Andrew Davidson, 64), 6 Will Welch (captain, Ryan Burrows, 31), 7 Gary Graham, 8 Callum Chick.

Falcons scorers - Tries: Vereniki Goneva, Callum Chick. Conversions: Brett Connon 2. Penalties: Brett Connon.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Marcus Smith (James Lang, 76), 9 Danny Care (captain, Charlie Mulchrone, 70); 1 Joe Marler, 2 Max Crumpton (Elia Elia, 65), 3 Kyle Sinckler (Will Collier, 61), 4 Matt Symons, 5 Ben Glynn, 6 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Semi Kunatani (Renaldo Bothma, 57), 8 Jack Clifford.

Harlequins scorers - Tries: Max Crumpton, Nathan Earle, Gabriel Ibitoye, Jack Clifford, Alex Dombramdt. Conversions: Marcus Smith 5. Penalties: Marcus Smith.

Referee: Tom Foley. Attendance: 7,212.

Newcastle Falcons 17

Tries
Goneva 50
Chick 63

Conversions
Connon 50,63

Penalties
Connon 7

Harlequins 38

Tries
Crumpton 4
Earle 16
Ibitoye 34
Clifford 43
Dombrandt 45

Conversions
Smith 5,17,35,45,46

Penalties
Smith 70

Newcastle Falcons

Hammersley, Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Arscott, Connon, Young, Davison, Cooper, Mulipola, Green, Witty, Welch, Graham, Chick

Replacements Socino, Brocklebank, Wilson, Davidson, Burrows, Takulua, Swiel, Bettencourt

Harlequins

Brown, Earle, Marchant, Saili, Ibitoye, Smith, Care, Marler, Crumpton, Sinckler, Symons, Glynn, Dombrandt, Kunatani, Clifford

Replacements Elia, Auterac, Collier, Merrick, Bothma, Mulchrone, Lang, Morris

referee: Tom Foley

assistant: Tim Wigglesworth

assistant: John Meredith

TMO: Claire Hodnett

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