Friday, 22nd December 2017 @ 00:00
Kick off 16:15
Kick off 17:30
Kick off 14:00
Kick off 15:00
Kick off 16:00
Harlequins lost by the closest of margins as Newcastle Falcons won 11-10 at a windy Kingston Park.
In the first half the home side dominated possession and territory and were rewarded with a Vereniki Goneva try and six points from the boot of Sonatane Takulua as they headed into the break ahead 11-0
With a big wind behind their backs Mike Brown crossed for Quins early in the second half to spark a fightback, and while they held the home side scoreless in the second spell they had to settle for just a losing bonus point as they fell 11-10.
Earlier, Harlequins arrived at Kingston Park following the disappointing continuation of their European campaign but the match against Newcastle was the first of three crucial league fixtures where Harlequins faced the three teams directly below them in the table.
It was the eighth placed Falcons though who soared out the blocks in this match as they dominated the Londoners in the opening half.
All the key stats from possession and territory, to gainline success and penalty count, favoured the Northerners and they were eventually rewarded on the scoreboard. Firstly via a Takulua penalty in the 14th minute after Will Witty was tackled just short of the line.
Three minutes later and Falcons had the five pointer they were after when Goneva went over in the corner, effortlessly palming the ball in one hand as he stuck out a big fend with the other. While the conversion sailed wide, Falcons led 8-0 with a quarter of the match played.
In the 25th minute desperate defence stopped a second try just short of the line and Falcons were forced to settle with another penalty which gave them a double-digit lead.
While Quins finally began to play down the other end of the field they never threatened to score as mistakes and missed tackles continued to count against them, and they went into the break trailing 11-0.
In the second spell, with their wind behind the backs, Harlequins came out firing on all cylinders.
Led by talisman Mike Brown the visitors quickly got themselves back into the fixture as the fullback scored in the 43rd minute, and remained influential for rest of the match. Marcus Smith converted the score to make it 11-7
Newcastle struggled to get their hands on the ball for long periods of play and a delightful delayed Brown pass almost set up Charlie Walker for a second touchdown soon after, only for the speedster to be stopped just short.
While Harlequins hammered away in the Flacons’ 22 they couldn’t cross again. They were forced to settle with a penalty in the 68th minute in what were the final points of the match.
While it was John Kingston’s side that looked the most likely victors in the final forty, Newcastle’s defence refused to wilt and with four minutes remaining they turned over a Quins attack and mauled their way to the win.
Both sides had a chance to take the four points but the spoils went to Falcons as Quins travelled back down south with just a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
Harlequins’ next fixture is Big Game 10 next Saturday 30th December (kick-off) at Twickenham Stadium. Tickets for the match are still available for purchase here and with 70,000 already sold it is set to be another memorable occasion at HQ.