Harlequins 23-12 Newcastle, Aviva Premiership, October 2
Quins battle past Falcons
October 2, 2010
Quins' Tomas Vallejos is held by the Falcons defence during their Aviva Premiership clash at the Twickenham Stoop
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Harlequins continued their resurgence with a 23-12 victory over Newcastle Falcons in their Aviva Premiership clash at the Twickenham Stoop.
A second half penalty try and a late score from replacement Tom Guest saw Quins notch only their second win of the season with Kiwi fly-half Nick Evans adding three penalties and two conversions. His opposite number and compatriot Jimmy Gopperth kept the Falcons in touch for much of the game with four penalties of his own but ultimately the visitors were made to pay for their failure to convert territory and possession into points.
Quins began brightly and turned down an early shot at posts in favour of a quick tap but they were eventually thwarted by some desperate Falcons defence with the visitors happy to infringe in order to snuff out the danger. But Quins did not leave empty-handed with Evans slotting the opening penalty of the game.
The hosts continued to dominate with No.8 Nick Easter and loose-head prop Joe Marler in particular making their presence felt across the park. But the Falcons steadied the ship and when Quins tight-head James Johnston went off his feet at the breakdown, Gopperth stepped up to level the scores despite slipping in the process.
And they almost had the lead moments later with fullback Jeremy Manning racing through to collect a chip ahead before sliding to within inches of the line. But some excellent defence from Quins centre Ollie Smith and scrum-half Danny Care kept him out and a cross kick from Gopperth sailed harmlessly into touch. The Falcons' No.10 was also wide with a long-range penalty a couple of minutes later.
Care's attempts to inject some pace into proceedings caused trouble in the Falcons' ranks and soon drew the next penalty that Evans slotted to restore his side's lead. But Quins' own indiscipline undid much of their good work and a penalty against lock Ollie Kohn allowed Gopperth to tie things up once again.
Quins soon built up another impressive head of steam and a catch and drive inside the Newcastle 22 took them close to the opening try of the game but in their eagerness they were called for accidental offside and the Falcons eventually scrambled the ball away. Quins were soon knocking on the door again and when Newcastle scrum-half James Pilgrim was penalised for offside, Evans landed his third penalty to give his side a narrow lead at the break.
Quins exploded into action at the start of the second half with a burst of speed and some great hands from fullback Mike Brown cutting the Falcons defence open. Support was quick in coming and with Care and winger Gonzalo Camacho proving elusive with the visitors stretched to breaking point. A pick and go from Care within inches of the Newcastle line looked to have been the wrong decision with a big over-lap and so it proved to be the case when the Television Match Official ruled out the score with Pilgrim doing just enough to prevent the try.
Quins turned the screw at the scrum with Chris White's whistle hammering the Falcons' pack that weathered a succession of penalties but lost the services of replacement prop Jon Golding to a yellow card. One final surge from the Quins pack brought the reward they were after with White finally running out of patience and awarding the penalty try that was converted by Evans.
Gopperth kept his side in touch with his third penalty and there was more joy for the Falcons just two minutes later when Marler was guilty of a blatant penalty in the shadow of his posts with Quins' lead reduced to just four points as a result.
Falcons then went in search of the lead with winger Charlie Amesbury involved and although they failed to pick a hole in the Quins' defence, the home side's impatience got the better of them with lock Tomas Vallejos the latest to feel the wrath of the referee for man-handling replacement scrum-half Micky Young. Growing in confidence the Falcons kicked to the corner instead of continuing to chip away at Quins' lead and a slippery ball was eventually their undoing.
The balance of power in the scrum appeared to have shifted to the Falcons and with it the momentum. Manning then almost latched onto another chip through with Quins doing well to scramble the ball away and their creaking scrum just about withstood the Falcons next assault.
Quins rallied and a mistake from Amesbury gave the hosts the ball at a scrum deep inside the Falcons' 22. The Falcons did their best to re-assert themselves at the set piece but Quins retained the ball and a pick and go from replacement Chris Brooker took them close before Guest powered over to put the result beyond doubt. Evans added the simple extras and although the Falcons ended the game on the front foot they were unable to rescue anything from the contest.
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