Brett Connon’s last-minute penalty sealed a dramatic Gallagher Premiership victory for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday as they dug in against in-form Harlequins.
Leading 14-7 at the break and needing every ounce of character to edge it at the death, Connon stepped up to slot a penalty from the left to clinch a hard-earned triumph.
Newcastle had missed an early opportunity to open the scoring just two minutes in when Connon’s long-range penalty was fractionally off-target - the fly-half having been a late call-up for the injured Joel Hodgson.
Joe Marchant knocked on for Harlequins ten metres from the Falcons’ line as the Londoners flung the ball wide early on – Marco Fuser’s enthusiastic jackalling earning a penalty for the home side.
The first points of the day finally arrived on 13 minutes, and it was worth the wait as Callum Chick marked his first appearance of the season with a try in the left corner.
The No 8 collected an offload from Sean Robinson 15 metres out, Ben Stevenson having chased down a Louis Schreuder box kick to help create the scoring opportunity.
Connon slotted a majestic touchline conversion to extend his side’s lead to seven, the home side fronting up physically as Philip van der Walt snaffled a midfield turnover with Quins pushed off their own ruck ball.
The Falcons doubled their lead on 26 minutes when a penalty was kicked to the left corner, Logovi’i Mulipola scoring a short-range pick-and-go try from the resulting ruck, again converted by Connon.
But straight from the restart Harlequins got themselves off the mark, Stephan Lewis awarded a try by the TMO who ruled that Van der Walt had not been interfered with in the air as he attempted to claim the kick-off.
Marcus Smith converted from the right-hand side, a chaotic end to the half seeing Newcastle almost scoring from a Louis Schreuder interception, only for his inside pass to be snaffled by a Quins hand.
That left Newcastle 14-7 up at the break, the visitors earning prime field position through Connon, George McGuigan and Luther Burrell’s combination, but failing to make it count after conceding a penalty at the close-range ruck.
The hosts were more clinical on 48 minutes when Adam Radwan scored their third – a flowing attack seeing the winger scoring from a ruck in the left corner following a TMO referral.
Harlequins responded through Tyrone Green on 57 minutes, the winger taking a short ball from a line-out 35 metres out to step round the last man, Smith’s conversion narrowing the Falcons’ lead to five points going into the closing quarter.
The sides were all-square just after the hour mark when Green raced in for his second, showing a fine turn of pace down the right, but the Falcons were back in front just four minutes later when Connon chipped over a simple penalty from in front.
Smith levelled things up again with six minutes to go with a similarly straightforward penalty, but Connon stepped up to win the game with a penalty from the left in the dying seconds to seal a dramatic home victory.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan (Mateo Carreras, 62), 13 Matias Orlando (Gareth Owen, 71), 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder (Sam Stuart, 62); 1 Trevor Davison (Adam Brocklebank, 67), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 67), 3 Logovi’i Mulipola (Mark Tampin, 67), 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser (Darren Barry, 76), 6 Sean Robinson (captain, John Hardie, 40), 7 Philip van der Walt, 8 Callum Chick.
Scorers – Tries: Callum Chick, Logovi’i Mulipola, Adam Radwan. Conversions: Brett Connon 2. Penalties: Brett Connon 2.
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Luke Northmore (Louis Lynagh, 62), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Joe Marchant, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Martin Landajo (Danny Care, 45); 1 Joe Marler, 2 Elia Elia (Scott Baldwin, 40), 3 Wilco Louw (Simon Kerrod, 66), 4 Matt Symons (Glen Young, 35), 5 Hugh Tizard (Alex Dombrandt, 53), 6 Stephan Lewies (captain), 7 Jack Kenningham, 8 James Chisholm.
Scorers – Tries: Stephan Lewis, Tyrone Green 2. Conversions: Marcus Smith 2. Penalties: Marcus Smith.
Referee: Jack Makepeace.
Penny, Radwan, Orlando, Burrell, Stevenson, Connon, Schreuder, Davison, McGuigan, Mulipola, Peterson, Fuser, Robinson, Van Der Walt, Chick
Replacements Blamire, Brocklebank, Tampin, Barry, Hardie, Stuart, Owen, Carreras
Morris, Green, Northmore, Esterhuizen, Marchant, Smith, Landajo, Marler, Elia, Louw, Symons, Tizard, Lewies, Kenningham, Chisholm
Replacements Baldwin, Els, Kerrod, Young, Dombrandt, Care, Herron, Lynagh
referee: Jack Makepeace
assistant: John Meredith
assistant: Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher