Newcastle Falcons claimed their second win of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season on Sunday and director of rugby Dean Richards admits the signing of Andy Goode has been a masterstroke.
Richards coaxed the 35-year-old out of retirement and the former England international came off the bench to kick 11 points as the Falcons came from behind to see off Harlequins.
Rob Vickers’ late try sealed the comeback from a 19-10 second-half deficit but it was the booming boot of Goode that had turned the tide around the hour mark.
Goode is currently contracted with the Falcons until March when Mike Delany is scheduled to return from injury.
And Richards – whose side sealed back-to-back league wins over his former club for the first time since 2000 – insists Goode’s experience is invaluable.
"Andy does change things – that's the value of experience and people listen to you when you have experience and invariably the decisions he makes are the right decisions. To have someone like him come off the bench is outstanding,” he said.
"We'll sit down and talk about Andy's situation in March. Mike Delaney should be back by then and it also depends on how much Andy is enjoying it.
"It was a hell of game but we made it hard for ourselves with 15 minutes of brainless rugby around half-time.
“When we pick and go from three metres out we're pretty effective and they ran out of defenders for the final try and Robbie Vickers loves that – that's his forte, scoring from three inches."
Scott Lawson’s early try and penalty from Craig Willis opened up an early 10-0 lead for the home side at Kingston Park.
With three wins on the spin on their home ground coming into the game, signs were good that the Falcons would be able to hold off Conor O’Shea’s troops.
But Quins came roaring back, scoring three tries either side of the half-time interval to establish a 19-10 lead.
Charlie Walker bagged two of the scores down the left wing while Dave Ward barged over at the back of a driving maul in between.
But the Falcons refused to buckle and the right foot of Goode kept them in touch until Vickers applied the killer blow – much to O’Shea’s disappointment.
"Credit to the Falcons for showing the fighting spirit they did. It's a tough place to come and it's just incredibly frustrating to have come back into the game and then lose it,” he said.
"Andy Goode is a class act and he can pull players around the pitch. He's a quality player and I'm sure London Irish will be disappointed to see his performance today."
Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley; Tait, Powell, Socino, Venditti; Willis (Goode, 57), Young; Vickers, Lawson (McGuigan, 66), Vea (Ryan, 66), Wilson, Robinson, Welch, Latu, Hogg
Replacements: Fry, Botha, Mayhew, Takulua, Penny
Harlequins: R. Chisholm; Yarde, Lowe, Sloan, Walker; N.Evans, Tebaldi; Lambert (O.Evans, 62), Buchanan (Gray, 56), Collier (Sinckler, 56), Horwill, Matthews, Wallace, Ward, Luamanu.
Replacements: Merrick, J.Chisholm, Waters, Botica, Swiel.
Tries: Lawson, Vickers
Conversions: Willis, Goode
Penalties: Willis, Goode 3
Tries: Walker 2, Ward
Conversions: Evans 2
Referee: Luke Pearce