Match Report

Harlequins - 0

Newcastle Falcons - 13

Saturday 24th Feb 2018

Newcastle began the game brightly, enjoying patient periods of possession in the home half, Kyle Cooper making an early incursion into the Quins’ 22 in an attack which eventually fizzled out.

Harlequins assumed a seven-point lead on as many minutes when they kicked a penalty to the right corner on the back of a big cross-wind, skipper James Horwill piling over from a close-range run, Marcus Smith drilling the extras into the breeze.

Both sides were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Nili Latu and opposite number James Chisholm were shown yellow for a coming-together in the left corner, an indisciplined home side conceding five penalties in the space of five minutes against a Falcons side who tried and failed to convert it into points through a succession of close-range line-outs.

Smith missed a chance to take Harlequins’ lead into double digits when he fired wide with a penalty from 30 metres out in front, and his side were feeling the pressure when hooker Joe Gray was sin-binned for pulling down a maul in the left corner.

Somehow, their defence was holding out, but that all changed on 33 minutes when another penalty was kicked to the left corner, and from the resulting period of pick-and-go the try was awarded to replacement Callum Chick.

Toby Flood converted from in front to tie the teams up at 7-7, Quins reduced to 14 men once again when their ragged discipline saw Alofa Alofa sent to the sin bin.

Despite ending the half camped in the home 22 the visitors were unable to make their advantage count on the scoreboard, Harlequins’ penalty count reaching double figures by the interval as they somehow maintained parity.

Newcastle started the second half with a spring in their step, putting together a multi-phase attack in the Harlequins 22 but failing to come away with points as the home side’s line-speed forced a knock-on at the crucial time.

Quins were more ruthless in making territory count when Smith slotted a penalty from 30 metres out on 47 minutes, but the Falcons found their scoring touch quickly after when a flowing attack ended with hooker Kyle Cooper scoring from a close range pick and go.

It had started from a scrum on Harlequins’ 22 which was worked left by Chris Harris, Nili Latu carrying the hard yards before Josh Matavesi’s line-break and Simon Hammersley’s support set up the ruck from which Cooper ploughed over.

Flood converted to put the Falcons up by four, and was doing so again just a couple of minutes later after a line-out steal on Quins’ 22 saw the ball worked left to right, Scotland centre Chris Harris hitting a super outside arc to dot down on the right-hand side.

Flood converted despite the wind blowing into his face, Newcastle’s defence holding up well against a resurgent Harlequins side who left the Falcons’ 22 empty-handed on a succession of occasions.

The visitors chalked up a well-deserved bonus point on 66 minutes when Matavesi’s kick earned them a five-metre scrum, simple blindside ball seeing Sinoti Sinoti scoring from a one-on-one in the left corner, Joel Hodgson stroking over the touchline conversion to build an 18-point buffer.

It turned out to be the last score of the game as Quins enjoyed a period of late pressure without managing to turn it into points, Newcastle’s history-makers enjoying their first league triumph at the Stoop for 18 long years.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi (Maxime Mermoz, 69), 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood (Joel Hodgson, 58), 9 Michael Young (Sonatane Takulua, 69); 1 Rob Vickers (Sam Lockwood, 71), 2 Kyle Cooper (Santiago Socino, 71), 3 Jon Welsh (Trevor Davison, 71), 4 Calum Green, 5 Will Witty, 6 Mark Wilson (Callum Chick, 10), 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Nili Latu.

**Scorers -** Tries: Callum Chick, Kyle Cooper, Chris Harris, Sinoti Sinoti. Conversions: Toby Flood 3, Joel Hodgson

**Harlequins:** 15 Aaron Morris (Tim Visser, 23), 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Alofa Alofa, 10 Marcus Smith (Demetri Katrakilis, 67) 9 Jono Kitto (Dave Lewis, 67); 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Joe Gray, 3 Kyle Sinckler (Will Collier, 64), 4 Ben Glynn, 5 James Horwill (captain), 6 Luke Wallace (Charlie Matthews, 67), 7 Dave Ward, 8 James Chisholm

**Scorers -** Tries: James Horwill. Conversions: Marcus Smith. Penalties: Marcus Smith.

**Referee:** Tom Foley.