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Sunday, 4 November 2018

Premiership Rugby Cup: Harlequins 21 - 23 Newcastle Falcons at the Twickenham Stoop

Harlequins had an excellent start to the Premiership Rugby Cup campaign with an away win against Bath last week.

This week, the Twickenham-based side welcomed Newcastle Falcons to The Stoop. The visitors, fresh off a hard-fought 22-all draw against Exeter Chiefs in their opening game, were looking to go one better with a win this week.

Despite a gloomy sky overhead, the Quins fans were cheering on their side from the moment fly-half Catrakilis kicked off proceedings.

Even Harley, one of the Club Mascots, was in buoyant mood, passing by and blowing me a kiss ahead of kick-off.

Within the opening three minutes, play was paused to allow treatment to a visiting Falcon but after a bit of magic spray and shoulder manipulation, both teams were back to full strength.

The first scrum of the game was awarded to Newcastle following a Quins’ knock-on. The hosts, however, were dominating the set-piece and won the turnover. Possession was short-lived as a penalty was awarded to Falcons, who took the opportunity to gain field position with a line-out in their opponents’ half.

Newcastle passed confidently but could not breech the Harlequins’ defence. Forced to kick, they handed possession to the hosts who simply sent the ball back up field.

The Falcons came again but could not pass half-way without chipping the ball along the ground. They found touch just outside the hosts’ 22 but with little pressure on the line-out, Harlequins secured the ball and found touch themselves.

A pause in play as Harlequins were awarded a penalty. Catrakilis again found touch and the hosts had an attacking line-out just outside the 22.

It was the turn of Quins to keep ball in hand and challenge the defence of the visitors. The hosts earned a penalty in front of the posts which Catrakilis confidently kicked: Harlequins 3 – 0 Newcastle Falcons (10 minutes).

Falcons lost no time in turning on the pressure against the hosts, and after two successive penalties, the visitors found themselves with a kick of their own to the right of the posts. The visiting fly-half Connon split the uprights and levelled the scores: Harlequins 3 – 3 Newcastle Falcons (15 minutes).

Play was again halted to allow Newcastle’s Bettencourt to receive treatment. Back on his feet, and the game resumed with a line-out to the hosts on the Falcons’ 22.

The ball was gathered well by Harlequins and a confident maul formed. They gained several meters before sending the ball wide.

As a team they pushed on with Saili breaking though the defence. Lewis Boyce crossed the whitewash under the posts but the referee went to the TMO for a review. It was disallowed and play resumed with a scrum to Newcastle following a knock-on.

Falcons cleared their lines, handing a line-out to Quins. A penalty to Quins, and scrum-half Saunders took it quickly, crossing the gain line and entering the 22. A spilt ball, however, handed a scrum to the visitors. The set-piece was working well for the hosts today as once again they dominated in the scrum. Penalty awarded and Catrakilis split the uprights, kicking Harlequins back into the lead: Harlequins 6 – 3 Newcastle Falcons (22 minutes).

Newcastle responded immediately, taking play back into the hosts’22. They were running at pace with ball in hand but this led to a spillage during a well-timed tackle. Visser, seeing an opportunity, kicked for a chase but it was too far for him to gather ahead of the opposition.

The Falcons came again but they gave away another penalty, allowing Quins to find touch, gather the ball and push up the field. Both teams then knocked-on and a scrum was awarded to Falcons just outside their 22. This was upgraded to a penalty but the visiting fly-half failed to find touch.

Although Quins gathered, they were turned over. Newcastle ran at pace against the hosts but in an attempt to keep momentum going, threw away possession. The hosts box-kicked and found touch. Falcons gained possession, earned a penalty and Newcastle again levelled the scores through the boot of Connon: Harlequins 6 – 6 Newcastle Falcons (32 minutes).

More misery for the hosts as visiting Bettencourt then ran in a try following a superb break by Collett. The conversion was taken quickly: Harlequins 6 – 13 Newcastle Falcons (33 minutes).

In a moment of brilliance, Harlequins scrum-half Saunders darted his way through the defence and made it up to the 22. A few more phases and a thumping tackle caused the hosts to spill the ball.

Falcons gathered and returned possession to the hosts by kicking long – Quins’ Lang making use of this gift and chipped the ball through the defence, finding distance and touch 10 metres from the try-line.

A defensive line-out for Newcastle who gathered well and attempted to run from their own 22. Eventually they kicked long and found touch, albeit still in their own half.

Murley, who had his first start of the season for Harlequins, did well after another loose pass saw Falcons kick through for a chase. Murley backtracked to gather the ball under great pressure. He got to his feet and gained some distance before being brought down. The ball was kicked into touch.

Falcons came again but gave away a penalty allowing Quins to kick for touch. Catrakilis went for distance but the ball was kept in play. Newcastle put the ball out just over half-way. Quins secured the ball in the line-out but knocked-on.

In an early replacement, Lang went off injured with Lasike coming on as a Game Changer as the clock counted down to half-time.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 6 – 13 Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle Falcons were forced into a change of their own after 40 minutes, with Bettencourt coming off for Stevenson.

As the second half got underway, both sides were kicking for territory.

A line-out at half-way allowed Newcastle to drive on into Quins’ territory but the hosts were able to turnover possession. Despite this, they were pushed backwards by the visitors and then matters worsened for Quins as an attempt to kick downfield went out on the full, handing Falcons an attacking line-out.

The hosts remained under pressure until they stole possession and Lasike broke through the defensive line. A wonderful back-hand offload from Chisholm allowed Murley to charge on along the wing. He was brought down and following a ruck, the ball was passed to the other wing.

Falcons were penalised for going off their feet and Quins kicked for the corner instead of the posts. They retained possession, formed a maul from the line-out, then passed for a direct attack near the posts.

Having been awarded advantage, Quins sent the ball long to the wing in the hope one of their own could get on the end of it and place the ball behind the try-line. It was not to be and so play was brought back for an easy 3 points: Harlequins 9 – 13 Newcastle Falcons (39 minutes).

Collett was then replaced for Newcastle Falcons.

Lasike again set the stadium alight as his powerful run broke the defence. He offloaded to a speeding Chisholm who then kicked for a chase. Falcons gathered but Quins continued the pressure.

Stevenson, only recently on the field for Newcastle, intercepted a lacklustre pass by Quins and ran for an easy try and conversion: Harlequins 9 – 20 Newcastle Falcons (52 minutes).

More Game Changers were brought on for the hosts: Ward and Saunders made way for Elia and Lewis.

Harlequins found touch by the Falcon’s corner flag. A fumble in the line-out saw the visitors pushed back over their line handing a 5-metre scrum to the hosts.

A penalty was then awarded and the hosts opted for another scrum.

Harlequins again dominated the scrum and Lewis peeled away hoping to cross the line unnoticed. He was prevented from doing so, however persistence prevailed and Boyce crossed the whitewash. It was unconverted: Harlequins 14 – 20 Newcastle Falcons (57 minutes).

Newcastle were determined to keep the pressure on the hosts but some thumping tackles by Elia handed Harlequins a scrum following a knock-on.

Morris replaced Visser for the hosts.

More dominance in the scrum for the hosts handed them a penalty, which was taken quickly. They made it deep into opposition territory before a high tackle handed Harlequins an attacking line-out in the corner. They gathered the ball, formed a maul and pushed on. Dombrandt crossing for the try. Converted: Harlequins 21 – 20 Newcastle Falcons (62 minutes).

Auterac and McNulty came on in place of Boyce and Swainston.

Former Harlequin Swiel took to the field for the Falcons.

Newcastle placed the ball in touch on the hosts’ 22. Quins secured the ball, formed a maul, but kicked out on the full handing the line-out to Falcons. Quins stole and sent up a high ball. Both teams challenged but Harlequins knocked-on.

Cheeseman then came on in place of White for the hosts.

Scrum to Falcons. The set-piece held firm but a weak pass for the visiting scrum-half caused Newcastle to juggle and offload a forward pass.

For the first time this game, the host’s set-piece failed them as their scrum collapsed. Newcastle lined up the posts for a penalty kick. Swiel sent it wide, unable to put his team back in front.

In another moment of madness, Newcastle charged down a clearance kick. Although Quins backtracked, they could not gather the ball cleanly, allowing it to bounce up into the chasing Newcastle pack. They could not get over the line but earned a penalty in the process. Swiel did not miss this opportunity: Harlequins 21 – 23 Newcastle Falcons (72 minutes).

Quins sent the re-start long, forcing Newcastle to kick from deep. Morris gathered the returned ball and made strides within metres of the half-way line. Murley and Cheeseman worked well together, gaining ground. Then the visitors started to read the play and pushed the hosts back into their own half. Lewis box-kicked out; Falcons’ Radwan gathered and landed in touch. Quins then lost the line-out.

Falcons sent the ball long for Morris to gather. The ball was passed out to the opposition wing for Murley to speed through the defence; only for a tug on his shirt to pull him down.

Penalty to Quins: it had the direction but not the length.

Quins regained possession and pushed on but then lost the ball in a turnover just outside the visiting 22.

Glynn joined the play in place of Merrick for the hosts.

Falcons then knocked-on under fierce tackling, handing the scrum to Quins.

It was re-set.

Less than two minutes to go.

Falcons came away with the ball but were tackled into touch over the half-way line.

One minute to go.

Elia found his mark, passed to 21 who delivered the ball on.

Quins pushed back into the opposition half and earned a scrum.

The clock had counted down. This was the final passage of play.

The scrum again went down and the penalty was awarded to Falcons who kicked the ball out to end the game.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 21 – 23 Newcastle Falcons

8,027 attendance.

15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Francis Saili, 12 James Lang, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Niall Saunders, 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Dave Ward, 3 Phil Swainston, 4 Dino Lamb, 5 George Merrick, 6 Jack Clifford ©, 7 Archie White, 8 Alex Dombrandt

Game Changers
16 Elia Elia, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Josh McNulty, 19 Ben Glynn, 20 Paul Lasike, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Cheeseman, 23 Aaron Morris

Newcastle Falcons
15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Pedro Bettencourt, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart, 1 Sam Lockwood, 2 Santiago Socino, 3 Jack Payne, 4 Andrew Davidson, 5 Glen Young, 6 Ryan Burrows ©, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Callum Chick

16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Trevor Davison, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Rob Farrar, 20 John Hardie, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Ben Stevenson

Match report: Natalie Osborne Photographs: Chris Spring
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 9:20 pm  

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