SA duo help Harlequins edge Newcastle in thriller
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Harlequins survived a scare to beat Newcastle 40-31 in Round One of the 2022/2023 Premiership season.
The Premiership’s opening day had been pushed back to Saturday after matches scheduled for Friday were rearranged following the Queen’s death aged 96 on Thursday.
The passing of the nation’s longest serving monarch was marked with poignant scenes at Premiership stadiums across the country.
Players and coaches wore black armbands and prior to kick-off there was a minute’s silence followed by the national anthem, now altered to God save the King to acknowledge Charles III’s assession.
Video screens inside the grounds carried commemorative messages and fixed flags were positioned at half-mast.
At Kingston Park, Newcastle struck first through George McGuigan’s try before Harlequins responded with South Africans Tyrone Green and Wilco Louw crossing over.
Adam Radwan and Nathan Earle notched solo scores to give Newcastle a three-point lead at the break.
But Harlequins scored twice in quick succession after the interval through George Head and Lennox Anyanwu.
Tries from McGuigan and Logo Mulipola threatened to give Falcons a shock win before Harlequins captain Alex Dombrandt powered his way over for last year’s semifinalists.
Meanwhile, Exeter prop Patrick Schickerling scored a last-minute try to hand Leicester a 20-24 defeat.
Exeter suffered a disappointing seventh-placed finish last season, but their strong showing against Leicester suggested they could be force this term.
Solomone Kata was Exeter’s other try-scorer, while there was also a penalty try awarded, with Joe Simmonds kicking a penalty and two conversions.
Hanro Liebenberg and Charlie Clare scored Leicester’s tries, both of which Jimmy Gopperth converted. Freddie Burns added two penalties.
Financially-stricken Worcester’s problems mounted as London Irish swept to a 45-14 victory.
Facing the prospect of administration due to debts exceeding £25 million ($29 million), Worcester found no refuge on the pitch at Brentford Community Stadium as they conceded seven tries.
Their players have still not been paid fully for August and, with £6 million in tax due, the club face a winding-up court hearing on October 6 as new owners are sought.
Evidence of Worcester’s dire straits was seen in last season’s kit still being used, with the jerseys displaying no player names in order to make them more swappable given the limited numbers available.
In Saturday’s late game, Ellis Genge scored two tries to help Bristol edge Bath 31-29.
The scores and scorers:
Newcastle 31-40 Harlequins
Tries: McGuigan 2, Radwan, Earle, Mulipola
Cons: Connon 3
Tries: Green, Louw, Head, Anyanwu, Drombrandt, Marchant
Cons: Allan 5
Exeter Chiefs 24-20 Leicester Tigers
Tries: Penalty try, Kata, Schickerling
Cons: J Simmonds 2
Pen: J Simmonds
Tries: Liebenberg, Clare
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pens: Burns 2
London Irish 45-14 Worcester
For London Irish:
Tries: Donnell, White, Hassell-Collins, Arundell 2, Joseph, Creevy
Cons: Jackson 3
Tries: Langdon, Shillcock
Cons: Williams 2
Bristol Bears 31-29 Bath
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Genge 2, Bradbury, Morahan, Capon
Cons: Sheedy, MacGinty 2
Tries: Spencer, Dunn
Cons: Francis 2
Pens: Francis 5