Saturday, 16th May 2015 @ 18:45
In their final match of the 2014/15 season Conor O'Shea gave the younger members of his squad some match time but they fell short losing 37-21 away to Newcastle Falcons.
With future stars like Joe Marchant, George Merrick and James Chisholm being given starts it was the experienced Nick Evans that accounted for all of Harlequins first half points. A try and 11 points with the boot giving them an 11-16 half-time lead.
Newcastle took the lead early in the second spell before Marland Yarde restored the Londoners advantage with his ninth try of the campaign. In the final quarter however the home side proved too strong scoring three unanswered tries in the final match of the season for both sides.
On a cold May day up North the locals made the better start in the tricky conditions. While the winds swirled around Kingston Park the Falcons kept the ball close to the forwards and in the fifth minute found themselves on the score sheet thanks to Richard Mayhew going over from the back of a rolling maul, giving them a 5-0 lead.
Harlequins got themselves back in the match quickly and after Yarde and Charlie Walker combined to send the visitors roaring up field, they were rewarded with a penalty, which Evans knocked over with an assist from Danny Care who steadied the ball on the tee.
The next 15 minutes saw both teams have their moments on attack but neither side could make it count with a try, instead trading penalties to take the score to 11-6.
At the end of the first quarter Tom Williams found his way onto the field replacing the injured Ollie Lindsay-Hague, the Harlequins stalwart playing in his 215th and final match for Quins.
However, it was his Premiership winning teammate Evans who was having the biggest impact as he first put Dave Ward into a huge gap on halfway to storm down field before finding himself in acres of space a few minutes later, going in under the posts untouched. He converted the try to give Harlequins their first lead, 11-13 with ten minutes to go in the half.
While the Harlequins scrum was under pressure they survived a number of restarts bang on halfway before Jack Clifford peeled off the back and put his teammates in space. The Supporters’ and Player’s Player of the Season being the catalyst for another three points from the boot of Evans giving them a deserved 11-16 half-time lead.
The second half was neck and neck to begin. Clifford thought he had scored a 40 metre solo effort only to be called back for a forward pass. The action reversed down field where Scott Lawson was on hand to score, once again from the back of a Newcastle rolling maul – one of the more effective attacking plays in the Aviva Premiership this season. The try giving Falcons a slender 18-16 advantage.
Only five minutes later though Harlequins form winger, Yarde went over for his ninth try of the season and seventh in 2015, to retake the lead 18-21 with just over 20 minutes to play.
Unfortunately for Harlequins these were the last points they would score in the season. First Mike Blair scored a breakaway try against the run of play before Adam Powell stretched the lead further, going over ten minutes later for the bonus point try.
The injuries continued to pile up for Quins and at one stage hooker Rob Buchanan, on the replacements bench covering prop was forced to come on and cover the second row as both Merrick and Sam Twomey went down injured.
It went from bad to worse for Quins who tried to end the season on a high by running the ball from their own line in the 80th minute before turning it over and conceding to Andy Saull, giving the home side a 16 point lead much to the delight of the crowd. Alex Tuilagi tried to add the extras but hit the post as the final score finished 37-21.
A disapointing end to a frustrating season but no doubt a great learning experience for many of the younger members of the squad. A special thank you and good luck to Tom Williams as well as Joe Trayfoot and Darryl Marfo who depart the club at the end of this season.