Six tries for NEC Harlequins as they comprehensively defeated Newcastle Falcons 47-23 at the Stoop to secure their second Zurich Premiership victory of the season. The home side totally dominated the first half and could have been further in front then 21-6 at half-time. Quins also came away with the maximum five points, with a bonus point being secured when Will Greenwood went over for the host's fourth try of the match with 15 minutes left to play.
Quins made a dream start to the game and scored their first try of the afternoon with less than 60 seconds on the clock. Jason Leonard was the first to gather David Slemen's kick-off and Slemen then pushed play deep into the Newcastle twenty-two with a cross-field kick. The visitors recycled possession but centre Tom May was unable to hold on to a pass from scrum half Hall Charlton and Pat Sanderson won the race to the touchdown, for his second try in two matches. Slemen failed to convert, but Quins were ahead 5-0.
With nine minutes played, Slemen stretched the Quins lead to 8-0 by converting a penalty, though Jonny Wilkinson cancelled this out in similar fashion just three minutes later and put Newcastle's first points on the board. After Viliame Satala and Nathan Williams failed to hold on to potential scoring passes, Slemen kicked his second penalty of the game at the end of the first quarter, with Newcastle offside in midfield. Wilkinson responded by converting his second penalty after Quins were guilty of hands in the ruck, which made the score 11-6 with 25 minutes on the clock.
Quins immediately hit back with their second try of the game. Williams was bundled out close to the line following good work from Ace Tiatia and Greenwood, though Newcastle knocked on possession giving Quins a scrum five metres out. Tony Diprose picked-up from the base of the set-piece and a rolling maul led to summer signing Laurent Gomez going over for his first try of the season. Slemen added the two extra points and then kicked a penalty to make the score 21-6 at the interval.
Immediately after the restart and Ace Tiatia was sent to the sin-bin and Wilkinson went over for Newcastle's first try of the match. After being awarded a penalty deep inside the twenty-two, Wilkinson took a quick tap that caught the Quins defence by surprise and the England fly half dived over in the left hand corner. By converting from wide out, Wilkinson made the score 21-13 in Quins favour.
It was then Newcastle's turn to be reduced to 14 men when replacement Hugh Vyvyan was sin-binned for deliberately killing the ball. Quins took immediate advantage and a catch and drive resulted in Tony Diprose going over for a try in the right hand corner. Slemen failed to find the target with the conversion and with Wilkinson kicking his third penalty of the game, the score was 26-16 as the match entered the final quarter.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, Quins sealed victory and with it a bonus point. Slemen failed to find touch with a penalty, though Newcastle did likewise with their clearance. Sanderson and Slemen took play into the twenty-two before the ball went to Greenwood in the midfield. The England centre danced his way pass three would-be tacklers and touched down under the posts for his second try of the season. Williams took over the kicking duties and added the two extra points on offer.
Straight from the restart, Quins scored again. Tani Fuga fed Diprose on the left before the number eight released Ben Gollings down the wing. Despite being tackled by two men, Gollings was able to get the pass away to Nick Duncombe, who had the pace to beat the covering defenders and score a cracking try. Williams again converted to take Quins up to the 40-point mark (40-16).
With five minutes remaining, Jamie Noon gathered a cross-field kick from Wilkinson to score Newcastle's second try of the match that Wilkinson converted, but it Quins who had the last word.
The home side took play to in front of the posts inside the visitors twenty-two and Duncombe popped an inside pass to Fuga, which allowed the Samoan hooker to break through the defence for a try under the posts. Gollings made no mistake with the simple conversion, which completed the scoring and ended a thoroughly satisfying afternoon for Quins.
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.