Harlequins 53 Falcons 17

Saturday 25 March 2017 Written by: Adam

Racking up the four-try bonus point inside 45 minutes, it was a result which makes Champions Cup rugby a longer shot next season for the Falcons despite the major improvements shown this term in the league.

The Falcons made inroads right from the start when Harlequins allowed Joel Hodgson’s kick-off to bounce inside their own 22, Sinoti Sinoti returning a hurried clearance kick with interest amid a swirling London breeze.

With less than five minutes on the clock his side had a 7-0 lead, early runs from Alex Tait and Nili Latu helping free Mark Wilson for a midfield line-break. The lock’s rampaging run was supported expertly by Sonatane Takulua, the in-form scrum-half dotting down between the posts before converting his own try.

Nick Evans chipped three off the margin as the home side slotted a penalty from close range on the back of scrum pressure, the Kiwi putting his team in front with a conversion on 15 minutes when runs from Tim Visser and Chris Robshaw ended with hooker Rob Buchanan scoring a try down the centre.

It got even better for Quins when a simple inside pass down the left wing put Mike Brown away for their second try, Evans again converting as they assumed a 10-point lead on the quarter mark.

Takulua reduced the margin by three with a well-struck penalty on the half-hour as the home team infringed three times in as many minutes, but Harlequins replied in kind through Evans’ second penalty when Juan Pablo Socino was sin-binned for a high tackle on the Kiwi fly-half.

The punishment continued with the final play of the half when centre Joe Marchant scored an interception try from a long, looping pass, Evans adding the extras for a 27-10 interval scoreline.

Within three minutes of the second half Harlequins had the four-try bonus point on the board, making the most of the extra man in the back line when Mike Brown’s arcing run freed Marland Yarde for a run-in to the right corner.

With replacement Evan Olmstead sin-binned almost straight after joining the fray Newcastle’s day was going from bad to worse, that pattern continuing when Mat Luamanu crossed for the home team’s fifth try.

The Falcons turned to their bench in search of answers, but it was starting lock Mark Wilson who ploughed over for an overdue second try when a series of close-range rucks allowed the Cumbrian a shot at the line, Delany converting.

But that was as good as it was to get for the Falcons, who conceded a further try to Tim Swiel on a miserable afternoon.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Dominic Waldouck (Chris Harris, 57), 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson (Mike Delany, 57), 9 Sonatane Takulua (Michael Young, 57); 1 Rob Vickers (Ben Harris, 30), 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Jon Welsh (David Wilson, 52), 4 Calum Green, 5 Mark Wilson, 6 Callum Chick (Evan Olmstead, 45), 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Nili Latu (Ally Hogg, 57).

**Sin bin:** Juan Pablo Socino (33 mins), Evan Olmstead (48).

**Falcons scorers -** Tries: Sonatane Takulua, Mark Wilson. Conversions: Sonatane Takulua, Mike Delany. Penalties: Sonatane Takulua.

**Harlequins:** 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser (Alofa Alofa, 72), 10 Nick Evans (Tim Swiel, 59), 9 Danny Care (Charlie Mulchrone, 72); 1 Joe Marler (Mark Lambert, 67), 2 Rob Buchanan (Joe Gray, 68), 3 Will Collier (Kyle Sinckler, 57), 4 George Merrick, 5 James Horwill (Charlie Matthews, 65), 6 Chris Robshaw, 7 Dave Ward (captain), 8 Mat Luamanu.

**Harlequins scorers -** Tries: Rob Buchanan, Mike Brown, Joe Marchant, Marland Yarde, Mat Luamanu, Danny Care, Tim Swiel. Conversions: Nick Evans 6. Penalties: Nick Evans 2.

**Referee:** Tom Foley. **Attendance:** 14,600.