Friday, 4th January 2019 @ 00:00
Kick off 14:30
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Kick off 21:00
Harlequins moved up to third in the Gallagher Premiership with a stunning, five-try 17-38 win at Kingston Park and in the process secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
The tries were share between Max Crumpton, Nathan Earle, Gabriel Ibitoye, Jack Clifford and Alex Dombrandt while Marcus Smith enjoyed an excellent day from the kicking tee, putting over six out of six kicks.
Harlequins scored with their first attack of the match when Newcastle were penalised for not rolling away and Smith kicked long to give his side a lineout on the five-yard line. And, in almost a carbon copy of their first try in Big Game the week before, Quins went short with the lineout, Dombrandt emerged with the ball but this time off loaded back to hooker Crumpton who scored in the corner. From wide on the right Smith converted to make it the perfect start for the visitors.
Newcastle responded immediately with a penalty from Brett Connon a minute later and threatened during early spells in the first half, only to be let down by a couple of careless knock-ons.
Connon had the chance to close the gap to one point after 16 minutes but his straight-forward looking penalty hit the post. Newcastle regathered the ball and were still looking dangerous down the left wing but Josh Matavesi’s pass was beautifully intercepted by Earle on his own 22 and he sprinted away from his challengers to score under the posts for his sixth try of the season and extend Quins lead to 3-14 when Smith converted.
Harlequins remained in control for the remainder of the half but had to wait until 35 minutes to score again when the quick-fire Gabriel Ibitoye started and finished a move from Quins’ 22 to score his first try of the season. It was a wonderful moment of turning defence into attack as Ibitoye collected the ball from another Newcastle spill in a dangerous position, offloaded beautifully to Mike Brown, who was celebrating his record-breaking 308th appearance for the Cub. The Full-back put a delightful kick deep into the Newcastle half. Brown and Joe Marchant chased the kick, Marchant collected, shipped it immediately to Brown who then found captain Danny Care just outside the Newcastle 22. Care moved it back to Ibitoye and the England U-20 star, who still had lots of work to do, darted his way to the line to score in the corner. Another tough kick for Smith from wide right found its way through and Quins led 3-28.
Just when the scoring seemed to be over for the half, Quins were awarded a penalty just inside their own half and the in-form Smith launched a kick deep into Newcastle territory. From the resulting lineout Quins made multiple drives for the line but excellent Newcastle defence appeared to have done its job to see it out for half-time. But then Care found Marchant who arced round the back of Newcastle, passed to Smith who, with a lovely bit of trickery, got the ball to Ibitoye who pushed for the line, then offloaded to Clifford who made no mistake from two yards out. Another tough kick for Smith from wide left went over and Quins had a 3-28 lead at half-time, with a four-try bonus point already secured.
Quins started the second half as they finished the first, exerting pressure on the Newcastle line. A beautifully timed Smith chip saw Marchant force a Quins line out inside the Newcastle 22. Another Quins penalty and the visitors were camped out on the Newcastle line again and a Quins scrum saw Dombrandt continue his extraordinary run of form as he piled over for his seventh try of the season. Smith converted again and Quins led 3-35 after 46 minutes.
But Newcastle were not going to go quietly in front of their home support and continued to fight and apply pressure. When a deliberate knock-on from Francis Saili have them a penalty in Quins’ half, Connon kicked long and from the resulting lineout Newcastle were able to ship it wide to Vereniki Goneva who powered over for their first try of the match. An impressive kick from wide by Connon made it 10-35 and Newcastle had a renewed energy about them.
Moments later it was 17-35 when another Quins penalty enable Newcastle’s Callum Chick to go over under the posts after another lineout on our five-yard line. The hosts continued to run hard at Quins but when they gifted Smith a penalty in front of the posts with nine minutes remaining when trying to run from their own half, even the home support appeared to concede the match was over. Smith duly completed his perfect kicking game and Quins saw the match out for that crucial away victory.
Harlequins next match back at The Stoop is in the Challenge Cup. Secure your seat to Harlequins v Grenoble on Saturday 12th January (kick-off 15:00).
All Junior Tickets for the match are just £5. Tickets available at tickets.quins.co.uk