Friday, 16th November 2018 @ 19:45
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Paul Gustard’s side move to fifth in the Gallagher Premiership with a 20-7 win at The Stoop.
In a first half of few clear chances and marred by two severe injuries and repetitive handling errors, the home side dominated and deserved their 10-0 half-time lead.
From their first possession, they spread the ball out wide with Marcus Smith, Ben Tapuai and Joe Marchant leading the charge from inside the away team’s 22. Though Falcons were able to clear, it was Quins who looked the more likely to score.
During their first defensive set, the home side were equally impressive, with Jack Clifford, James Chisholm and Alex Dombrandt putting in some big challenges.
Then, having turned the ball over in the early stages, Quins ran into the Falcons 22, and only Lewis Boyce a knock-on denied them a certain score.
Moments later Newcastle fly-half Joel Hodgson went down with a suspected broken leg which saw former Quin Tim Swiel coming on to replace him.
A few errors at the lineout hampered Quins’ progress allied to a few near misses in their offload game but, on the 22-minute mark, Scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone made an attack from a quick tap penalty on the half-way line, and took his side up to the 22-metre line. With this momentum Quins spread the ball out to the backs and, thanks to some sumptuous footwork from Nathan Earle, the attacking side pushed forward to near the Falcons five metre. They piled on the pressure, forcing a penalty which Smith converted to give his side a 3-0 lead.
In response, Newcastle launched an attack of their own from just after the kick-off, forcing the men in quartered shirts on to the back foot. Unfortunately, in the defensive effort winger Aaron Morris suffered a nasty head injury, causing him to be replaced by Francis Saili. Elia Elia also made way for Max Crumpton at Hooker at the 30-minute mark.
Five minutes later, following a penalty on the Quins 10-metre, Toby Flood had the chance to level the scores but his kick was wayward and short.
With the clock ticking down, Harlequins scored their first try of the match when Dombrandt picked up an interception from 40 metres and charged over for his third try in his last five matches. With the conversion comfortable for Smith, Quins went into the break with a comfortable lead, but knowing it could have been more.
After the break Lewis Boyce was sent to the sin bin after he was penalised at the scrum which brought Joe Marler onto the field to great acclaim. With the added bulk Quins forced a penalty at a ruck inside the Falcons half, allowing Smith to extend his side’s lead to 13-0 after 52 minutes.
Falcons started to string the phases together but Harlequins’ resolute defence remained strong. Just before the hour Falcons scrum-half Michael Young became the match’s third major casualty, as he was taken from the field with a head injury.
With his side having reclaimed possession, returning Full-back Mike Brown made a half break inside the Falcons half, shifted the ball out to Joe Marchant on the wing, who made his way to the Falcons five-metre. Despite being tackled, he managed to pop the ball out onto Francis Saili who was on his shoulder and ran in for his side’s second try of the match. With the extras added, Quins now led by 20 points with 15 minutes to go.
Newcastle, however, were not going to leave South London without a fight and, after more sustained pressure inside the Quins half, second row Andrew Davidson crossed the whitewash for a try, and with the conversion slotted, the deficit was cut to 13.
The visitors continued to pressurise until the final whistle but Quins’ well-organised defence held firm and gave Gustard’s side a third Premiership victory of the season.
Harlequins take on Exeter Chiefs in their next Gallagher Premiership fixture at The Stoop on Friday 30th November (kick-off, 19:45) and tickets are still available for this fixture. Go to tickets.quins.co.uk or call 020 8410 6000.