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Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 38 Harlequins 32

04 Dec 2016
Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 38 Harlequins 32

Newcastle Falcons ran in six tries in a thriller of a game at Kingston Park with Juan Pablo Socino starring in a black shirt to down Harlequins.

Ten tries kept the crowd enthralled as Socino grabbed two, while Marcus Watson, Michael Young, Mark Wilson and Evan Olmstead completed the Falcons try scorers.

But Harlequins did not leave empty handed as Tim Visser’s last-gasp try, and Ruaridh Jackson’s conversion gave them a try bonus point, as well as a losing bonus point.

Harlequins, without a win – or even a point – on the road in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season before kick-off, enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.

And a period of return kicking from 22 to 22, led to an opening for Visser whose kick forward put Luke Wallace clean through, but he could not gather and the opportunity was gone.

The visitors did open the scoring, though, with Tim Swiel kicking a penalty in the eighth minute after Falcons infringed at the breakdown.

But the home side hit back five minutes later as Michael Young stepped inside Aaron Morris, leaving the full-back for dead, to cross under the posts – with Joel Hodgson adding the extras.

Harlequins hit back though, in the 19th minute, with Rob Buchanan barrelling over in the corner after the visitors switched play swiftly from left to right.

And in an end-to-end game Falcons almost responded immediately, but Will Witty did not quite have the legs to make the line, and spilled the ball when felled five yards from glory.

But they did score on the half hour mark, as Socino made a darting run from the base of a ruck to put Falcons ahead – with Hodgson stretching the lead.

And two tries soon became three, as Mark Wilson sniped over two minutes later, after a devastating run from Alex Tait – Hodgson again unerring from the tee.

Falcons continued to dominate in the closing stages of the first half, turning defence into attack at the drop of a hat, but failed to find the killer pass to cross for a fourth time.

And the domination continued in the second half as Socino grabbed his second, feeding Fred Burdon before receiving again on the wrap-around support run to go over in the right corner – Hodgson wayward with the conversion.

But Dickson gave the visitors hope ten minutes later, sniping from the bottom of a ruck to spin his defender and ground the ball at the second time of asking – with Jackson adding the extras.

And Quins, 11 points behind with 25 minutes to play, continued to press forwards but when Visser – returning to Kingston Park ten years after making his Falcons debut – offloaded, Morris was not able to gather and the chance went begging.

The pressure did eventually pay, though, as Visser and Morris combined well to feed Dickson for an easy run in – Jackson converting.

The comeback did not last for long, though, as Socino was wrapped up but still managed to offload to Vereniki Goneva, who fed Evan Olmstead to finish well in the left corner – giving Hodgson too much to do with the conversion.

Falcons were now nine points ahead, with just ten minutes remaining, and could have further increased that lead but Wilson’s charging run down the right touchline was brought to a halt by Morris.

Jackson then made for a tense finish after Falcons infringed, giving Harlequins the opportunity to reduce the deficit to six points – a chance the Scot happily took.

But a moment of genius from Sonatane Takulua, with three minutes to play, saw his deft, outside-of-the-boot, grubber kick collected by replacement Watson to touch down in the left corner – with Mike Delaney adding the conversion to secure the win.

The action was not complete though, and with the clock already in the red Visser ran clear to touch down and secure Harlequins’ first point on the road this season, with Jackson kicking the conversion to add the losing bonus point.