Harlequins continued their relentless charge towards the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP play-offs thanks a sixth win in seven games, and 12 points from the boot of fly-half Adrian Jarvis at home to Newcastle.
With England star Nick Easter returning to the Quins back row and another impeccable performance from scrum-half Danny Care, Dean Richards’ men never looked like surrendering crucial points.
Another four points for Quins were, however, marred by the second-half sending-off of South African replacement De Wet Barry for a horror high tackle on England centre Mathew Tait.
Newcastle came out in determined mood to end their four-game losing streak and took an early lead thanks to a penalty from the boot of England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.
Newcastle’s impressive start quickly evaporated as Jordan Turner-Hall recovered the kick-off – and after Falcon hands were in the ruck, Jarvis kicked Quins level.
Newcastle began to assert and had a number of scrums close to the Quins line – captain Phil Dowson turned down the opportunity for three points, and the decision appeared to backfire as the Falcons left empty-handed.
On 17 minutes, England hopeful Care demonstrated his new-found confidence – landing an opportunist drop-goal after Newcastle had surrendered possession at a lineout.
It could have been 9-3 just minutes later, but Jarvis missed a kickable penalty to stretch Harlequins’ lead.
Jarvis made amends for his earlier miss by slotting his second penalty of the game, before Wilkinson reduced Newcastle’s arrears with a long-range effort of his own after Quins had infringed at the break-down.
Quins’ Ugo Monye pulled up just seconds before the break and was replaced by South African Barry – while his fellow wing Simon Keogh was unfortunate not to score in the corner after a clever Care grubber kick.
With the half-time hooter ready to sound, referee Martin Fox penalised Newcastle for straying offside – and Jarvis extended Quins’ lead to 12-6 at the break.
After the break, the game petered out following a red card for Barry and the nasty injury caused to England youngster Tait.
Barry’s high shot at the England star as he was chasing through on to his own chip left Tait needing attention by paramedics. He was given oxygen, before gingerly managing to walk off the field.
Wilkinson kicked the penalty to reduce the arrears further, but Harlequins had added to their half-time lead through the boot of Jarvis.
Veteran fly-half replacement Chris Malone had a chance to push Quins further in front but missed a kickable penalty.
As the clock ticked down, Care and Malone expertly pushed their forwards around the Stoop as Quins hung on for a crucial win in their quest for the play-offs.