Match Report

Newcastle Falcons - 3

Harlequins - 24

Friday 05th Jan 2024 | KO 19:45 | Kingston Park

Newcastle Falcons began 2024 in defeat as Harlequins took all five points from Friday’s Gallagher Premiership encounter at Kingston Park.

In front of a season-high home crowd of 6,403 the home side trailed 10-3 at the break, having got off to a nightmare start.

They trailed inside a minute when Quins winger Nick David collected a long, looping pass to dot down in the right corner for an unconverted try – the Falcons having failed to deal with the kick-off.

Centre Jordan Holgate produced a jackal penalty near his own try-line as the Londoners pressed for a second score, and it was only the home side’s desperation in defence that was keeping them in the contest as they repelled wave after wave of Harlequins attack.

Newcastle’s cause was further hampered when winger Adam Radwan was sent to the sin bin for a no-arms tackle, but the defensive resolve kept coming as the Londoners were repeatedly repelled.

The weight of pressure simply had to tell eventually, though, and that moment came on the half-hour when World-Cup-winning centre Andre Esterhuizen exploited the gap vacated by Radwan’s yellow card to score in the left corner.

Edwards’ touchline conversion flew just wide of the posts, and the Falcons missed a golden opportunity to hit straight back when they kicked a penalty to the left corner and lost the resulting line-out.

Handed a second opportunity within striking distance the home side opted for the three, with Brett Connon marking his 100th game for the club with a successful penalty from just left of centre.

Newcastle saved their best period of attacking play for the final few minutes of the half as Guy Pepper down the right and Iwan Stephens down the left both got close to the try-line, but Harlequins maintained their 10-3 lead at the midway point.

The visitors added another seven to that margin early into the second half when they kicked a penalty to the left corner – England hooker Jack Walker rumbling over from the driving maul.

Edwards slotted the conversion, and his side wrapped up the four-try bonus point on 56 minutes when lock George Hammond scored after a sequence of close-range pick-and-go near the goalposts.

The Falcons kept going with a Iwan Stephens foray down the left only to be intercepted, and when replacement Louie Johnson grubbered cleverly in behind the advancing defensive line the resulting offload went to ground.

The result by that stage was beyond doubt, with Harlequins taking all five points back down with them to the capital.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny (Elliott Obatoyinbo, 40), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Jordan Holgate (Louie Johnson,40), 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Brett Connon, 9 James Elliott (Josh Barton, 52); 1 Phil Brantingham (Adam Brocklebank, 57), 2 Bryan Byrne, 3 Eduardo Bello (Eduardo Bello, 65), 4 Sebastian de Chaves (Tim Cardall, 68), 5 Kiran McDonald, 6 Pedro Rubiolo (Philip van der Walt, 58), 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Scorers – Penalties: Brett Connon.

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Nick David (Louis Lynagh, 66), 13 Oscar Beard, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cameron Anderson, 10 Will Edwards, 9 Will Porter; 1 Fin Baxter, 2 Jack Walker (Sam Riley, 65), 3 Will Collier (Lovejoy Chawatama, 64), 4 Irne Herbst (Joe Launchbury, 56), 5 George Hammond, 6 James Chisholm, 7 Will Evans, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain, Chandler Cunningham-South, 68).                      

Scorers – Tries: Nick David, Andre Esterhuizen, Jack Walker, George Hammond. Conversions: Will Edwards 2.

Referee: Matthew Carley. Attendance: 6,403.