Harlequins begin title defence with bonus-point win away at Newcastle

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Danny Care of Harlequins breaks with the ball during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins at Kingston Park on September 19, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Danny Care of Harlequins breaks with the ball during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins at Kingston Park on September 19, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. - GETTY IMAGES

Newcastle Falcons 20 Harlequins 26

The old adage about success having many fathers still holds true, but it was still a surprise to hear quite so many London voices cheering on Quins at Kingston Park. The sizeable travelling support had much to laud though as the premiership champions picked up where they left off last year with a bonus-point win that fused grit and ambition in equal measure.

Newcastle is not an easy place to come and Dean Richards' men made the visitors fight for every point. Only in the last quarter did Quins pull away, and even then Falcons fought back to win a last minute bonus-point that was just reward for their resilience throughout this entertainingly robust encounter.

While Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards was left to rue missed opportunities, his Quins counterpart Tabai Matson eulogised over his side, especially double try-scorer Louis Lynagh, “world-class” Danny Care and man of the match Tommy Allan.

“It's such a good start to our campaign,” said Quins new director of rugby. “They've started the campaign where they left off. This is a tough place to play and to come up here and get a result for only the second time since 2012 is a massive step forward. A bonus-point was more than we could have hoped for up here.”

The match sparked into life early, with Newcastle forcing their way over from a lineout drive but failing to ground the ball. Quins lock Dino Lamb then butchered a simple try-scoring opportunity with a forward pass after Danny Care had intercepted on halfway before being hauled down just short.

Little wonder the scrum-half took matters into his own hands moments later when Quins chose a scrum under the Falcons posts rather than three easy points. That spirit of adventure worked as Care broke from the scrum and threw a looping pass to wing Louis Lynagh. Falcons full-back Tom Penny got fingers to the ball, but succeeded only in tipping it into the wing's mitts. Allan added the extras from the touchline with less than ten minutes on the clock.

Louis Lynagh of Harlequins scores his teams first try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins at Kingston Park on September 19, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Louis Lynagh of Harlequins scores his teams first try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins at Kingston Park on September 19, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. - GETTY IMAGES

Standing in for Marcus Smith, the Italian stand-off became an increasingly powerful influence on this game. He created the visitors' second try halfway through the first period, ghosting through a dogleg in the Falcons' defences and putting away Joe Marchant, the centre going over untouched. Allan's hooked conversion went over via the upright.

Newcastle were in danger of being overwhelmed but they also have a match winner in Adam Radwan. Immediately from the restart, the wing scored a classic finisher's try after centre Ben Stevenson rose to claim the restart. When the ball reached Radwan on the right wing, he appeared to be hemmed in with little chance of making the corner, but with his remarkable speed off the mark the 23-year-old made it with something to spare.

If that was good, better was to come when Radwan broke from his own half and with an audacious Obolensky-like mixture of raw pace and old-school sidesteps carved past half a dozen flailing tacklers before drawing the final defender and feeding debutant left wing Iwan Stephens for the former Leeds Rhino to touch down under the posts. Connon's conversion brought Falcons back to within two points, a scoreline which had looked inconceivable just moments earlier.

The second half started with Radwan to the fore, the wing intercepting an inviting Alex Dombrandt miss pass and going over, only to be brought back for a knock-on. Quins heeded the warning and with fullback Tyrone Green making good ground, registered the first try of the half. Once again it was Allan who did the damage, breaking the line and putting Lynagh over.

By now the match was really warming up, with a succession of big hits, the most wince-inducing of which was Pete Lucock's thunderous rib-tickler on Quins blindside Tom Lawday. With the pressure exerted by some hefty tackling, the scoreboard was also ticking over nicely, with Newcastle registering another try after second row Sean Robinson intercepted a hurried pass on halfway and put scrum-half Louis Schreduer away to bring Falcons back to within two points.

Quins didn't let their hosts stay in touch for long though, Care coming round the side of a ruck under Newcastle's posts with a trademark score to give them a nine-point final quarter lead. Not that Newcastle accepted their fate: indeed, the impressive Stephens almost went over after a mazy run before being tackled into touch.

The final stages were frantic, and while Falcons never looked like overhauling Quins the penalty point they earned with the last kick of the match was well-deserved.

Match details

Newcastle Falcons: T Penny; A Radwan, B Stevenson, P Lucock, I Stephens; B Connon (W Haydon-Wood, 75), L Schreuder (C Nordli-Kelemti, 75); L Mulipola (K Cooper, 53), G McGuigan (J Blamire, 66), T Davison (M Tampin, 51), G Peterson (M Fuser, 66), S Robinson, P van der Walt (C Collett, 75), W Welch (capt), C Fearns.

Harlequins: T Green; L Lynagh, J Marchant, A Esterhuizen (L Northmore, 67), C Murley (H Jones, 75); T Allan, D Care (S Steele, 67); S Garcia Botta (J Marler, 50), J Walker (S Riley, 67), S Kerrod, M Symons (H Tizard, 64), D Lamb, T Lawday (A White, 75), J Kenningham, A Dombrandt (capt).

Referee: Tom Foley

Attendance: 6,114

Scorers: Try Lynagh 0-5; conv Allan 0-7; try Marchant 0-12; conv Allan 0-14; try Radwan 5-14; try Stephens 10-14; conv Connon 12-14; try Lynagh 12-19; try Schreuder 17-19; try Care 17-24; conv Allan 17-26; pen Haydon-Wood 20-26.

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