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Saturday, 24 February 2018

Harlequins' losing run continues with defeat to Newcastle Falcons

A competitive game was expected between Harlequins and the visitors Newcastle Falcons coming into this weekend.

The Twickenham Stoop has been an impenetrable fortress against Newcastle Falcons; their last win here was seven years ago in the Anglo-Welsh Cup; 18 years in the league.

However Falcons have worked their way to fifth in the premiership whilst Quins have slipped down to ninth, and their last meeting saw Newcastle earn a narrow one-point victory at Kingston Park in December.

It was a bright but very cold Saturday afternoon at The Stoop. One minute’s applause was held in memory of Doncaster Knight’s Ian Williams who sadly passed away during training earlier in the week at the age of 27.

Harlequins’ spirited fly-half Marcus Smith kicked off proceedings and the hosts chased well. Michael Young, scrum-half for the visitors, box-kicked to clear their lines and Quins’ Charlie Walker was quick to run with the ball and chip through; his attempt blocked.

The visitors, wearing black and grey, attempted to run out of their half but strong defence from the hosts forced them to kick just shy of the half-way line. The ball was promptly returned and an aerial battle ensued, Quins’ Aaron Morris slicing it out on the full handing Newcastle an attacking line-out.

They secured the ball and passed to the far wing however a penalty against the visitors allowed the hosts to clear their lines.

Another penalty against the visitors on the half-way line allowed Smith to find touch deep inside the 22, despite the Falcons’ best efforts to catch the ball.

Quins secured the line-out and attacked the whitewash; Captain James Horwill collecting the ball from the ruck and diving over the line. Smith curled in the conversion: Harlequins 7 – 0 Newcastle Falcons after 8 minutes.

The re-start was gathered by Quins in their own 22. They kicked long to a waiting Simon Hammersley who gathered the high ball confidently for Falcons. A successful turnover was made by the hosts on the half-way line but Walker lost possession, the referee deeming it a knock-on.

After only 11 minutes of the game, Newcastle were forced to make a replacement with Callum Chick coming on for Mark Wilson.

The first scrum of the game did not go well for the hosts; Newcastle Falcons being awarded a free-kick which they took quickly, getting into Quins’ territory.

Play was halted after a ‘disagreement’ between the two teams and a yellow card awarded a piece; James Chisholm and his opposing number Nili Latu sitting out the game for 10 minutes.

Newcastle continued to push up the field. They secured the line-out; their scrum-half Young releasing Josh Matavesi. Quins slowed down the ball and handed a penalty to the visitors who again attacked the line-out. Although the visitors secured the ball, Quins fought the ensuing maul.

The referee signalled advantage in front of the posts; Horwill received a warning on behalf of his team. Falcons passed the ball out towards the wing before it rolled into touch. Play was taken back to the scene of the penalty and again the visitors went for the line-out. Falcons retained possession and the forwards attempted to grab and drive over the line. Staunch defence, however, saw Quins win a penalty.

Smith found touch just inside their own half but Newcastle stole the line-out. The visitors passed the ball with confidence yet Quins kept applying the pressure, resulting in a loose and forward pass from fly-half Toby Flood; Sinoti Sinoti spilling the catch.

Scrum to Harlequins just outside their own 22. A penalty was then awarded and Smith found touch deep inside opposition territory. The line-out was gathered well by the hosts; Luke Wallace and Jamie Roberts broke through the game line.

Smith saw some space behind the defence and attempted a cross-field kick. He failed to keep it in play but Falcons were forced to deal with a line-out. They succeeded but Young did not get great distance on his box-kick, handing Quins an attacking platform.

Again, the hosts broke through the defensive line but spilt the ball under tackle (the debate continued amongst the fans as to whether the hosts were tackled off the ball). Clearly the decision was too close to call and the original scrum was awarded.

Quins attacked the ensuing line-out and stole possession. The hosts were progressing up to the 22 and advantage was being played following off-side antics by the visitors.

Smith lined up the posts but pushed the ball wide.

In an injury concern for the hosts, Aaron Morris was replaced by Tim Visser with 16 minutes left of the first half. The Scottish international made an instant impact gaining ground and Walker then attempted another kick-chase; this time sending the ball too far and into the arms of the waiting fall-back Hammersley.

A line-out to Quins inside their own half. They secured possession and formed a maul before releasing the centres and wings. Newcastle Falcons intercepted but Quins quickly regained possession. A great run by scrum-half Jono Kitto brought the hosts right up to the visiting 22, but then possession was turned over.

Another penalty was awarded to the visitors and they found touch just metres from the try line. The visitors secured possession and formed a maul that worked its way up to and over the try-line.

The ball was deemed to have been held-up and Falcons were presented with a 5-metre scrum. Gray was shown yellow following a succession of team penalties and was to sit out the remaining 10 minutes of the first half.

Another line-out to the visitors 10 metres out from the line. They formed another rolling maul. It went to ground and the ball was passed to the centres. Then a series of grab-and-drives made their way closer to the try line with Callum Chick crossing the whitewash; Toby Flood added the conversion and after 34 minutes of play, the scores were level: Harlequins 7 – 7 Newcastle Falcons.

Smith kicked the ball long with Newcastle sending it into touch still deep within their own half. Dave Ward, delivering line-out ball, confirmed his play but then missed his target. Newcastle gathered the loose ball and ran with it, their no. 8 Nili Latu breaking through the defensive line. A penalty was awarded against hands in the ruck and Kyle Sinckler aired his disapproval, forcing Quins back another 10 metres.

Newcastle found touch, secured line-out ball and passed it out wide with confidence. Play moved back to the centre and out to the near wing; fast play attempting to stretch the Quins’ defence. Again the Falcons crossed the line but the ball was held up, handing the visitors a 5-metre scrum.

The visitors retained possession and ran with the ball, pushing up to the try line. Referee Tim Foley was playing advantage as the visitors again crossed the whitewash, albeit the ball being held up.

Back for the penalty, and the visitors opted for the scrum. Another penalty and another scrum. Quins’ winger Alofa Alofa was shown yellow as the first 40 minutes came to a close.

Newcastle were unable to capitalise and Quins weathered the storm.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 7 – 7 Newcastle Falcons

The second half began with Charlie Walker gathering the re-start ball for the hosts with confidence and immediately put the pedal down, slipping through a couple of tackles before offloading. Roberts took up the mantle and gained further ground before Kitto box-kicked out.

Newcastle gathered and ran the ball up to the 22. Roberts made a hard-hitting tackle causing his opponent to spill the ball. Scrum to Quins.

The ball was fed and gathered. Smith crossed the game line, offloaded to Kitto to continue the run. Ward took the opportunity to find an opening in the defensive line, taking play up to the opposition 22. A penalty was awarded to the hosts as Horwill received treatment on the pitch.

Smith opted for the posts, kicking into the biting wind. He judged the conditions to perfection: Harlequins 10 – 7 Newcastle Falcons after 47 minutes.

A lapse in judgement by the hosts at the re-start, however, saw a scrum handed to the visitors deep inside the Quins’ half. They secured the ball and attacked the far wing. Defence was strong and the ball was brought back to the centre before a dummy pass bluffed Quins, allowing the visitors to get within metres of the try line.

In a repeat of play in the first half, Quins gave away a penalty for being offside. The referee played advantage and Kyle Cooper crossed for a try; Toby Flood added the extra two points: Harlequins 10 – 14 Newcastle Falcons after 52 minutes.

A well-placed kick by the Falcons following the re-start saw Walker back track and put under pressure to keep the ball in play. He successful gathered and passed to Smith who gained ground before returning it to Walker.

Play moved out to the far wing where the ball found touch. Newcastle secured line-out ball; Matavesi breaking through the defence before possession was passed to the near wing; Chris Harris strolling over the line. Flood extended the lead: Harlequins 10 – 21 Newcastle Falcons after 56 minutes.

In a stroke of good fortune for the hosts, Newcastle’s scrum-half Young box-kicked straight into touch on the full, handing Quins a line-out deep within the opposition territory.

The hosts secured line-out ball and swiftly sent ball in hand. It was transferred from one wing to the other but with little territory gained. Flood was replaced by Joel Hodgson after 59 minutes, struggling with an injury picked up just before his most recent conversion kick.

Horwill attacked the line but was pushed backwards; a scrum awarded to the hosts.

Smith saw opportunity and the defence bought his dummy pass, opening up a gap for him to squeeze through. The animated fly-half was brought down and Falcons stole possession. They box-kicked out and after gathering, Quins ran with ball in hand, despite being pushed back by the visitors. James Chisholm broke through the defence but his offload bounced off Alofa Alofa, handing a scrum to Newcastle.

Replacements for Harlequins: Kyle Sinckler off; Will Collier on with just 16 minutes remaining.

Good scrummaging from Quins but Newcastle retained possession until they kicked on. The hosts gathered and kept ball in hand. The visitors made a successful turnover and again kicked long for a chase. The ball was knocked-on by Smith handing Falcons an attacking scrum inside the hosts’ 22.

Another try to the visiting team; Sinoti Sinoti crossing for the bonus-point.

With 15 minutes left of the game, the Harlequins fans left in their droves. Some of those who remained deemed themselves ‘so-called supporters’ with doubt creeping through their minds.

Harlequins 10 – Newcastle Falcons 28 with a successful conversion.

As the re-start got underway, Harlequins made more replacements: Wallace, Kitto, Horwill, and Smith off; Matthews, White, Catrakilis, Lewis on.

Quins kicked the ball high and within a good chasing distance for the hosts but Newcastle were able to gather following a lacklustre challenge by their opponents.

After gaining good ground, the visitors gave away a penalty. The hosts kicked for a line-out on the half way line. The ball was not thrown straight gifting the visitors a scrum. Newcastle made changes replacing their front row (Socino, Lockwood and Davison coming on as well as Mermoz and Takulua who took on the scrum-half role) with less than 10 minutes remaining.

The Falcons secured the ball and challenged the wing before passing inside to the centres. They box-kicked high, retained possession and kicked on further for a chase along the far wing; this race was won by Quins who then gathered, passed and sliced the ball into touch on the near wing.

They found themselves defending a line-out on their 22 but the ball was not thrown straight handing a scrum, upgraded to a free kick, to Quins who took it quickly.

They ran out from their 22 but then opted to kick. This simply handed Newcastle the ball still inside the half-way line.

Quins regained possession with Visser combining with Roberts to attack the defensive line. Chisholm pushed up to the half-way line.

Play was then pushed back before Newcastle handed Quins a penalty. The ball found touch and the hosts secured the line-out. They formed a maul which rolled to the centre of the pitch. The ball was then released but the attack came to nothing as a scrum went the way of the visitors.

Less than 2 minutes remaining and Quins forced play to remain inside the visiting 22. From a visitors ruck, the ball was passed back and kicked into touch, marking a historic win for Newcastle and yet another defeat to Harlequins.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 10 – 28 Newcastle Falcons


15 Aaron Morris, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Alofa Alofa, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jono Kitto, 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Joe Gray, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Ben Glynn, 5 James Horwill ©, 6 Luke Wallace, 7 Dave Ward, 8 James Chisholm


16 Charlie Piper, 17 Cameron Holenstein, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Archie White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Tim Visser

Newcastle Falcons

15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Michael Young, 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Kyle Cooper, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Calum Green, 5 Will Witty, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch ©, 8 Nili Latu


16 Santiago Socino, 17 Sam Lockwood, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Maxime Mermoz

Match Report: Natalie Osborne Photography: Chris Spring

posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 10:51 pm  

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