Ruthless Harlequins add to Newcastle Falcons’ woes as Mike Brown returns to former home



Harlequins 24 Newcastle Falcons 10

A fittingly defiant performance from Newcastle Falcons on Mike Brown’s homecoming could not prevent Harlequins from landing a third consecutive win that sends the reigning Premiership champions above Saracens and into a second. The hosts blew hot and cold and should have been made to pay for going down to 13 men in the second half following rapid-fire yellow cards for Luke Northmore and Danny Care.

Despite the efforts of Brown, Adam Radwan and George McGuigan, Newcastle’s free-running hooker, Harlequins prevailed thanks to tries from Huw Jones, Louis Lynagh and Cadan Murley, who bagged a double. In a tearful interview for BT Sport aired ahead of the game, Brown had revealed that his contract would not be renewed for next season. Dean Richards, the Newcastle director of rugby, delivered the news despite indicating as recently as last November that an extension would be forthcoming. Brown admitted that it leaves him playing to attract a suitor that will prolong his career.

“At least I can get out on the field, put my best foot forward and get a job,” he said. It was certainly jarring to see him at the Twickenham Stoop facing Harlequins, whom he represented in a record 351 matches between 2005 and 2021. For a start, there is a bar that bears his name in the players’ lounge of the East Stand. The 36-year-old had his first touch within 40 seconds as he rose to gather Care’s box-kick. Despite a run of seven straight domestic losses, Newcastle started well and breached the opposition 22 through center Pete Lucock. It did not last.

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Harlequins ran the ball from their own five-meter line, with Murley surging into space from Sam Riley’s pass. The ball was spread to the other flank, where Tyrone Green and then André Esterhuizen made ground. After two pull-back passes, Tommy Allan pinned back his ears and split Newcastle. He linked up with a supporting Jones on his inside and then converted an archetypal Harlequins try. Radwan was typically sparky for Newcastle. In the 16th minute, Brown forced a belligerent breakdown turnover. He swooped on to Joe Marler, who had stolen the ball at the previous ruck. Falcons kicked to touch and earned another penalty under the posts. McGuigan knocked on in an attempt to shunt over. Marler and Wilco Louw obliterated Newcastle at the ensuing scrum.

Buoyed by the occasion and the audition opportunity, Brown remained prominent. After receiving a ticking-off from referee Karl Dickson, another ex-Harlequins team-mate, for back-chat, he took a tap-penalty that kept Newcastle on the front foot and led to three points for Will Haydon-Wood. Falcons were not within four for long. From a robust maul, Murley bustled off the shoulder of Care and over the whitewash.

Harlequins’ third arrived on the half-hour mark and looked far too simple. Jones and Esterhuizen gave Green some room and the fizzing back, Brown’s successor, sent Lynagh clear. The ease of the sweeping move suggested that Falcons might crumble. Instead, they responded before half-time. Tom Marshall dotted down from close range, benefitting from Haydon-Wood’s scurrying break. Newcastle’s attacking endeavor led to two Harlequins yellow cards in two minutes. First Northmore was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, and then Care was adjudged to have competed for the ball illegally. From a five-metre scrum against 13 men, Haydon-Wood cut inside Allan and stretched for the line, but spilled.

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Archie White was among Harlequins’ busiest defenders, the back-rower holding up Radwan to earn the scrum that heralded the return of Northmore and Care. The champions promptly picked up a bonus-point. Marler and Collier combined to win a set-piece penalty, which was kicked into the corner. Jack Walker’s throw sailed to the tail and White spun to the blindside. Care could free Murley and the combative wing had his second from him. There was still time for another burst from the tireless McGuigan, with Radwan also darting past tacklers. But an offload from Brown drifted forward to hasten the end.

match details

Scoring sequence: 5-0 Jones try, 7-0 Allan conversion, 7-3 Haydon-Wood penalty, 12-3 Murley, 17-3 Lynagh try, 19-3 Allan conversion, 19-8 Marshall try, 19-10 Haydon-Wood conversion , 24-10 Murley tries

Yellow cards: Northmore 53, Care 55

Harlequins: T Green; L Lynagh, H Jones (L Northmore, 50), A Esterhuizen, C Murley; T Allan (W Edwards, 65), D Care (L Gjatltema, 69); J Marler (S Kerrod, 77), S Riley (J Walker, 50), W Louw (W Collier, 50), M Symons, (G Hammond, 53), H Tizard (M Jurevicius, 69), S Lewies, T Lawday, A. White

Newcastle Falcons: M Brown; T Penny, G Wacokecoke (M Wright, 73), P Lucock, A Radwan; W Haydon-Wood (B Connon, 65), C Nordli-Kelemeti (L Schreuder, 50); T Davison (A Brocklebank, 50), G McGuigan, M Tampin (R Palframan, 50), G Peterson (W Montgomery, 64), R Farrar, S Robinson, J Basham, T Marshall (F Lockwood, 50)

Replacement not used: c maddison


www.telegraph.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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