Harlequins 48 Falcons 20

Saturday 15 April 2023 Written by: Adam

A try with the final play of the first half handed the Londoners a 12-10 interval lead, and they powered away in the closing quarter to add gloss to the score-line in what had been a highly-competitive contest.

A high-tempo start saw both sides signalling their intention to run the ball, Harlequins twice earning prime field position but knocking on within shooting distance of the try-line.

A sell-out home crowd was growing increasingly subdued by the patience and defensive discipline of the visitors, whose wall of green forced them into repeated errors.

Quins kicked a penalty to the left corner only to concede an offence of their own at the set-piece, and even with a trio of further red-zone penalties they still could not break the Falcons’ rearguard.

The visitors heightened their party-pooping credentials on 23 minutes by opening the scoring with a length-of-the-field try, disrupting Quins’ scrum and seeing Matias Moroni break away down the right. The Argentina international kicked downfield, Adam Radwan won the foot-race to the loose ball and charitably fed fellow winger Mateo Carreras for the simplest of touchdowns.

Brett Connon slotted the conversion from in front, and the fly-half put his side’s lead into double figures just before the half-hour with a well-struck penalty from 40 metres out.

Quins reduced the Falcons’ advantage to 10-7 when a quick tap penalty ten metres in front of the posts saw South African centre Andre Esterhuizen scoring down the left-hand side, with England fly-half Marcus Smith converting.

Just when it looked like the visitors would remain three up at the break, the Londoners scored with the final play of the half to nudge 12-10 in front – Esterhuizen booming a penalty to the right corner, from where Louis Lynagh scored in phase play.

Newcastle were back in front just three minutes into the second half thanks to a second Brett Connon penalty – this time from left of centre 20 metres out after the home team strayed offside.

Quins snatched back the lead shortly after when full-back Josh Bassett powered over down the left-hand side, his team having been held up over the try-line from the previous phase.

The Londoners had the four-try bonus point when Alex Dombrandt exploited numbers on the left from a series of slick offloads, but they were reduced to 14 men when Will Evans was sin-binned for an off-the-ball tackle following a rampaging line-break by Pedro Rubiolo.

A grandstand finish was ensured when Freddie Lockwood showed superb strength to wriggle over the try-line from an incredible Mateo Carreras run – the Pumas winger dancing and powering his way past four defenders to get deep into the 22.

Connon’s conversion narrowed Quins’ lead to just two points going into the closing ten minutes, but Alex Dombrandt second try and scores from Dino Lamb, Fin Baxter and Joe Marchant ended the uncertainty, leaving Newcastle empty-handed despite their outstanding battling efforts.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson (Pete Lucock, 43), 12 Matias Moroni, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon (Josh Thomas, 74), 9 Michael Young (captain, Sam Stuart, 55); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Logovi’i Mulipola, 65), 2 Jamie Blamire (Conrad Cade, 52), 3 Mark Tampin (Conor Kenny, 65), 4 Greg Peterson (Tom Marshall, 74), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 7 Callum Chick, 8 Carl Fearns (Freddie Lockwood, 51).

**Scorers –** Tries: Mateo Carreras, Freddie Lockwood. Conversions: Brett Connon 2. Penalties: Brett Connon 2.

**Harlequins:** 15 Josh Bassett (Tommy Allan, 61), 14 Louis Lynagh (Oscar Beard, 53), 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care (Lewis Gjaltema, 73); 1 Joe Marler (Fin Baxter, 66), 2 Jack Walker (Sam Riley, 66), 3 Wilco Louw (Simon Kerrod, 23), 4 Dino Lamb, 5 Irne Herbst (George Hammond, 65), 6 Luke Wallace (Jack Kenningham, 53), 7 Will Evans, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain).

**Scorers –** Tries: Andre Esterhuizen, Louis Lynagh, Josh Bassett, Alex Dombrandt 2, Dino Lamb, Joe Marchant, Fin Baxter. Conversions: Marcus Smith 4, .

**Referee:** Matthew Carley.