Newcastle 3 Harlequins 14: Harlequins send Falcons crashing

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The Independent Online

Newcastle, suffering from a lack of inspiration from Jonny Wilkinson, looked dispirited and disjointed when beaten 14-3 by lowly Harlequins last night before their biggest home crowd of the season - 9,874.

The home side had no answer to a grimly determined Quins. With Toby Flood on the England bench this afternoon and Jamie Noon in the team, Newcastle were without three of their first-choice backs and gave a debut to 20-year-old fly-half Gavin Beasley. Harlequins' two changes from last week were on the wing, where Simon Keogh and Tom Williams were replaced by Ugo Monye and David Strettle. They looked a settled side and this victory took them up to eighth in the Premiership table with Newcastle third from bottom.

Newcastle started brightly, with a penalty by Matt Burke, but Quins were soon on the attack and they came close to a couple of scores, but really struck when John Rudd fumbled a ball allowing David Strettle to touch down.

Given that Ugo Monye was very slightly forward when he received the ball, it was no more than Quins deserved. Monye then had to be helped off with a leg injury and was replaced by Mel Deane. Before the half ended, a bout of slick inter passing led to a try for Nick Easter converted by Jarvis and the turnaround came with Harlequins deservedly in front, 14-3.

Jason Oakes, back from suspension, failed to emerge at the restart and scrum-half James Grindle did not last much longer after being unable to shake off a first-half arm injury.

The second half was as dire as the first - endless rucks and mauls with no ball emerging, just a scrum to follow. Harlequins played much of the game in Newcastle's half and Jarvis missed with a long-range penalty but Burke and his men could not piece anything worthwhile together.

Newcastle: M Burke (capt); T May, M Tait, M Mayerhofler (J Shaw, 68), J Rudd; G Beasley (L Crichton, 61), J Grindal (L Dickson, 43); J Golding (R Morris, 45), A Long (M Thompson, 52), D Wilson, A Perry, J Oakes, G Parling, B Woods, B Wilson (C Harris, 52). Harlequins: M Brown; D Stretle (D Care, 61), G Duffy, J Turner-Hall (A Mehrtens, 73), U Monye (M Deane, 28); A Jarvis, A Gomarsall; C Jones, T Fuga (J Richards, 68), M Ross, O Kohn, N Spanghero (J Evans, 70), A Vos, P Volley (capt), N Easter.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).

* England hopeful James Simpson-Daniel scored a stunning late solo try last night as Gloucester stormed to a fourth straight Guinness Premiership win beating London Irish 22-11. The Exiles eventually got on the scoreboard with a Barry Everitt penalty with 12 minutes left in the first half.

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