Newcastle Falcons go into the European break still in ninth place despite a 35-9 home defeat to a well-oiled Harlequins outfit in the Aviva Premiership.
Tries from Sam Smith (2), Tom Williams and Danny Care secured the spoils for Conor O’Shea’s men in front of a 6,000 plus strong Kingston Park crowd.
The Falcons can now look forward to three tasty Premiership affairs following the continental sabbatical, itching to make amends for Sunday afternoon’s loss.
Back-to-back clashes with Calvisano lie in wait for the northeasterners before the pre-Christmas game at Exeter Chiefs and the two home matches with London Wasps and Sale Sharks on 27 December and 3 January respectively.
In truly traditional style, Ally Hogg fittingly led the Falcons out on his 100th outing in the famous black jersey with the committed back-row greeted by a roaring following on the terraces. But unfortunately, this was not the way he would have wanted to mark the occasion as Quins asserted their dominance.
Newcastle fell behind as early as the ninth minute when Tom Williams took a neat pass from Nick Evans to scoot in for the try. Referee Andrew Small went upstairs for confirmation after Easter’s pass looked forward on first glance. The try was awarded and the Kiwi No.10 slotted home the conversion to go 7-0 ahead.
Phil Godman reduced the deficit to 7-3 with an 18th minute penalty after the visitors were penalised for offside, but their reprieve was short-lived when Evans’ second penalty of the day made it 10-3. Evans’ impeccable kicking continued on 26 minutes as he extended Quins’ lead to 13-3 when Carlo del Fava was adjudged to have infringed at a maul.
Godman had the chance to peg the Londoners’ supremacy back to 13-6 with a penalty to the left of the uprights, but the Scot could only skew his kick wide of the near post. However, Godman made up for it eight minutes from the break, this time from a more central position just inside Quins’ half.
13-6 down at the interval, the Falcons remained very much in the contest, but they made the worst possible start to the second half as Smith was the benefactor of a five-on-one overlap to waltz in at the corner with barely a minute on the clock. Evans failed to convert from out wide but at 18-6 up, the Tyneside club needed a colossal effort to get back into the game.
Godman smashed home a penalty four minutes later, but this would be the last of Newcastle’s scores as Quins took full control of proceedings.
Ryan Shortland’s emphatic line-break just minutes after Evans had nosed Quins further ahead, had the Falcons supporters on their feet. Slicing through Quins’ rear-guard at will, the Kiwi flyer lacked support and the move broke down as the visitors earned a penalty at the ruck.
Sweeping up-field in the aftermath of Shortland’s break, Quins were relentless with ball in hand, powering their way towards the line with scrum-half Danny Care dummying his way over to touchdown. Evans converted for a 28-9 score.
On the hour mark Alex Tait scampered through a gap on the far side as the academy product sought a much needed try for his side, but the former Barnard Castle pupil was hauled down close to the line. From the breakdown the ball was switched to the near side, where Hogg’s looping pass to Noah Cato could only find touch.
This seemed to sum-up the day for the Falcons, and there was still 20 minutes left on the clock for Quins to pile on more misery for the North East outfit.
Richard Mayhew’s monumental ball-and-all hit on Smith with just over 15 minutes to play was the only shining light as Quins added a fourth try to secure the bonus point. Smith showed resilience following Mayhew’s tackle to sprint from his own 22 to slide over to rubber-stamp a 35-9 triumph.
The Falcons entertain London Wasps in their next home Premiership game on Friday 27 December with tickets still available by calling 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.
Tait, Cato, Barnes, Powell, Shortland, Godman, Blair, Vickers, Lawson, Brookes, Del Fava, McKenzie, Mayhew, Welch, Hogg
Replacements McGuigan, Shiels, Wilson, Tomes, York, Fury, Clegg, Fitzpatrick
Brown, Williams, Hopper, Casson, Smith, Evans, Care, Marler, Ward, Collier, Easter, Robson, Trayfoot, Wallace, Guest
Replacements Allen, Lambert, Doran-Jones, Matthews, Chisholm, Stuart, Botica, Lindsay-Hague
referee: Andrew Small