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Four try fly-in lands Harlequins home draw

25 Apr 2009
Four try fly-in lands Harlequins home draw

Harlequins took just 29 minutes to score the four tries against Newcastle which ensured them a home draw in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP play-off semi-finals.

England number eight Nick Easter stormed in for the first two inside 17 minutes, while hooker Tani Fuga grabbed the third and full-back Mike Brown clinched the bonus point with 11 minutes still to go until half-time.

That was mission accomplished but Quins, watched by England coaching trio Brian Smith, John Wells and Graham Rowntree, continued to deliver a message to their play-off rivals that they are focused on the championship after Leinster edged them out by a single point in the Heineken Cup semi-finals.

Winger Ugo Monye celebrated his call-up to the Lions squad to tour South Africa with their fifth try, a brilliant solo effort in the 38th minute, and fly-half Waisea Luveniyali kicked three conversions.

Knowing that a bonus-point victory would guarantee them second place and a home semi-final, Quins stated their intentions from the off. The bold policy paid off in the seventh minute after they passed up the chance of an easy penalty goal.

Care took the tap-kick quickly, running the ball before releasing Easter who was driven over by his supporting forward colleagues, leaving Luveniyali an easy conversion to give the home side an early 7-0 lead.

Rampant Quins almost scored again after Brown found touch in front of the corner flag with a 50-metre penalty but desperate defending by the Flacons prevented skipper Will Skinner from taking Brown’s final pass.

Newcastle, weakened by the late withdrawal of England centre Jamie Noon with a back spasm, could not contain Harlequins and Easter cracked their defence again in the 17th minute.

Jordan Turner-Hall, Luveniyali and Brown’s initial attack was repelled but Quins switched the ball right and then back left before Turner-Hall released Easter whose strength took him over despite the hands-on attention of several defenders.

Four minutes later, Harlequins struck again with Brown, overlooked by England this season after playing on last summer’s New Zealand tour, continuing his all-action performance by sending Fuga in near the left corner flag.

Harlequins chose two scrums and a lineout ahead of penalty-kicking opportunities as they chased the tries.

The first bonus-point opportunity slipped from the fingers of Brown on the Newcastle line after a slick piece of handling by Luveniyali moved on a pass from Care.

But Brown did not have to wait long to make amends, gratefully accepting a pass from livewire Care before escaping the grasp of Newcastle full-back Alex Tait to squeeze over near the posts.

Newcastle responded with a try from their first real attack. The breakaway saw May, switched from fly-half to the centre after Noon’s withdrawal, hauled down just short of the home line.

But the Falcons recycled the ball and Geoff Parling, a 22nd-minute replacement for injured number eight Adam Balding, scored on his farewell appearance before joining Leicester Tigers in the summer.

It was only a temporary setback for Quins who replied with a superb try from Monye, their only Lions representative.

The powerful winger sold a sublime dummy to Tait as he cut inside the full-back and raced clear, with time to salute the crowd chanting his name, before diving over in the corner.

Newcastle showed more resolve in the second half as Harlequins were disrupted by injuries.

Despite that the home side were twice denied further tries by forward pass decisions before replacement scrum-half Hall Charlton grabbed a late second try for Newcastle.

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