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Newcastle Falcons 37 Harlequins 21

16 May 2015
Newcastle Falcons 37 Harlequins 21

Mike Blair signed off his Newcastle Falcons career in style as his side recorded their first Aviva Premiership Rugby victory in four months with a 37-21 win over Harlequins.

The former Scotland scrum-half crossed the whitewash just past the hour mark to put his side back in front after Marland Yarde and Nick Evans tries, plus 11 points from the latter’s boot, had given the visitors a 21-18 lead.

Adam Powell’s try added some breathing space before Andy Saull – also making his final Falcons appearance – capped things off as the hosts won an Aviva Premiership fixture for the first time since beating London Welsh on January 11.

Newcastle got off to the perfect start with Richard Mayhew crossing the whitewash with just two minutes on the clock.

It came as a result of a powerful driving maul after Harlequins were penalised, with Mayhew making the decisive move – Tom Catterick, returning from illness, missing the conversion.

The visitors got themselves on the scoreboard five minutes later courtesy of an Evans penalty after Falcons were penalised for not rolling away.

Newcastle continued to probe away though – Alex Tait with a chip and chase which he just failed to collect – but they did get another chance to add to their lead when Quins were caught offside and Catterick slotted another penalty for an 11-3 lead.

But while starting slowing, Quins were starting to find their feet and Evans quickly replied with another penalty. And just five minutes later the fly-half brought the scores level, this time with a converted try of his own.

Having kicked for touch, the visitors applied the pressure from the line out and with the Falcons defence crumbling, the Quins fly-half went over, adding the extras for 13-11.

The momentum was now with the visitors with winger Yarde suddenly starting to get his hands on the ball more than the first 20 minutes.

And with Newcastle again caught offside, Evans slotted over his third penalty of the match to give his side a five-point lead at the break.

The hosts started brightly after the break and Blair, in his last appearance for Falcons before joining Glasgow Warriors, nearly played in replacement Zach Kibirige but the winger was slightly slow out of the blocks and the ball went out of play.

It was then the turn of Jack Clifford to show a turn of speed , running over from 40m out, but the Land Rover Discovery of the Season nominee saw it chalked off for a forward pass in the build up, much to the disappointment of the Quins fans.

Newcastle responded well, and Catterick’s searing run before being brought down by Danny Care, brought the hosts right up towards the try line.

They continued to pepper the line, but the chance was initially lost with Calum Green and Catterick getting in each other’s way and the ball was knocked on.

However they were not to be deterred and the forwards again came to the fore with another driving maul from a line out finished off by Scott Lawson. Catterick added the extras and the Falcons moved back into the lead, 18-16.

They were not ahead long though as some magic footwork from Yarde saw him bamboozle the Newcastle defence to run in on 55 minutes, Evans off target with the conversion.

The game was opening up and fantastic work by Powell at the ruck opened up a chance for Falcons with Care consequently failing to gather the ball.

It was then a foot race as Blair picked up possession before racing in under the posts, Catterick converted and it was now the Falcons who were 25-21 up with 17 minutes remaining.

And while Blair departed to a standing ovation, Falcons were not done yet as the impressive Powell broke towards the line, before opting out of using his teammates to go it alone for the bonus point try on 71 minutes, Catterick converting.

Quins were unable to respond and replacement Saull then added the gloss in the final minute with a fifth try.

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