By Harley Quin
March 3 2012
In a dour match, where Falcons physicality crossed the 'line' of acceptable behaviour on several occasions, Nick Evans salvaged a draw with a penalty as time ran out. The two points ensure that Quins remain top of the league at the end of this weekend's games.
In the first half and with apologies to the Hollies, it was tough to tell the bottom from the top. Both fly halves kicked an early penalty, then hit the post with their second efforts, before missing the target completely with their third attempts!
Neither side mounted any sustained attacking pressure and Quins were unable to take any advantage when Falcons scrum half Chris Pilgrim was sin binned for a professional foul.
The half suffered a long delay for a bad injury to Chris Brooker, which was later confirmed to be dislocated knee. It was a sickening injury, with the unlucky player hospitalised.
The game finally 'ignited' at the end of the half with several Harlequin players taking exception to the late tackle Falcons flanker Tu'ifua put on Quins fly half Evans. It was one of several encounters that left Quins DoR Conor O'Shea incandescent as the half came to an end.
Would that carry over into the second half......... Well, yes. Tu'ifua was withdrawn after 53 minutes, but the physicality remained. Sadly, there wasn't a whole lot else going on. The second half was just a replica of the first stanza.
The game was played at a pace that did not suit Quins and they were unable to find the necessary class and decision making to blow the game open. When Falcons were reduced to 14 men again with just 10 minutes remaining (hooker Vickers carded for a punch at the breakdown) it gave Quins a platform to mount a winning position.
Unfortunately, they almost immediately conceded a penalty which Gopperth drilled through the posts. Newcastle's largest crowd of the season roared their approval.
Down 9-6 the visitors camped in the Newcastle 22 and finally earned Evans the chance to tie the game with a tough kick. The fly half nailed yet another pressure shot for Quins, to his obvious delight and two points headed south to Twickenham.
As anybody watching on TV will know, that was one ugly game..... "It was pretty hostile out there to say the least" said Conor afterwards. Thankfully the team have two weeks to recover before the next game against Bath.
15. Mike Brown 14. Tom Williams 13. George Lowe 12. Jordan Turner-Hall 11. Ugo Monye 10. Nick Evans 9. Danny Care 1. Joe Marler 2. Chris Brooker 3. James Johnston 4. Olly Kohn 5. Tomas Vallejos 6. Tom Guest 7. Luke Wallace 8. Nick Easter (C)
16. Rob Buchanan (for Brooker 24 mins) 17. Mark Lambert 18. Tim Fairbrother 19. Pete Browne (for Kohn 25 mins) 20. Will Skinner (for Guest 64 mins) 21.Karl Dickson (for Care 53 mins) 22. Rory Clegg 23. Matt Hopper (for Monye 76 mins)
15. Greg Goosen 14. Tom Bedford 13. Jamie Helleur 12. James Fitzpatrick 11. Jeremy Manning 10. Jimmy Gopperth (C) 9. Chris Pilgrim 1. Jonny Golding 2. Rob Vickers 3. James Hall 4. Adriaan Fondse 5. Tim Swinson 6. Taiasina Tu’ifua 7. Will Welch 8. Ally Hogg
16. Michael Mayhew (for Welch 76mins) 17. Grant Shiells 18. Ashley Wells (for Hall 24/57 mins) 19. James Goode (for Fondse 53 mins) 20. Mark Wilson (for Helleur 79 mins) 21. Adam Balding (for Tu'ifua 53 mins) 22. Will Chudley (for Pilgrim 64 mins) 23. Alex Tait (for Goosen 54 mins)