Recent encounters between these two sides have been close nailbiting affairs. Today proved no exception.
The first quarter of the game remained scoreless as both forward packs battled out a war of attrition. Gary Armstrong returned for the Falcons after a long injury lay off but was soon sniping from the base of the scrum, as only he can. The deadlock was broken with a Huw Harries try in the corner following quickly recycled ball. Unfortunately, a strong wind was causing havoc and Gareth Rees could not convert.
The remainder of the half was played out in the middle third of the pitch with only the diminutive Chris Wright, filling in at full back for Quins, looking as if he could spark some life into the game. It appeared Quins would take their lead into half time until the ever dangerous "Inga the Winger" broke clear releasing flanker Jimmy Cartmell to touch down out wide. Wilkinson missed the conversion and the whistle sounded.
After half time the pace of the game increased as Quins began to attack the visitor's line. The referee awarded a penalty against Newcastle for collapsing a maul just as Quins looked likely to score. As the players got to their feet a bout of fisticuffs ensued. The result of which saw Garrick Morgan and George Graham cool off for 10 minutes in the "sin bin" and the referee reversed his decision allowing Newcastle to clear their lines.
Harlequins continued to attack and look the more dangerous until Tuigamala intercepted a Gareth Rees pass to score a try that Jonny Wilkinson converted. Quins went forward in the same vein playing the more creative rugby but repeatedly failed to finish off moves. A rare Newcastle foray into the Quins half saw them earn a simple penalty in front of the posts that Wilkinson converted extending their lead to 5-15.
With 10 minutes to go Harlequins replaced 5 forwards, including the whole front row and remained on the attack. Chris Sheasby scored a well executed try from a rolling maul after 3 line outs in the Newcastle quarter. The score was converted by Rees. Quins threw themselves at the opposition and still had opportunities to win but to Newcastles' credit their defence was superb. And they managed to hold on for the victory 12-15.
Quins must improve the final phases of their play to overcome Bedford this Tuesday, and avoid embarrasment against Darlington at The Stoop next weekend.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.