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Harlequins begin title defence with hard-fought win at Newcastle as Tommy Allan shows his class

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Job done for Harlequins, who will make the long return to London with their title defence off to a perfect start having survived a tricky opening test against the Newcastle Falcons

A bonus point victory was secured in typically adventurous fashion as Harlequins, now overseen by New Zealander Tabai Matson, invited Newcastle into an entertaining encounter at Kingston Park.

A double from Louis Lynagh and further scores from Joe Marchant and Danny Care propelled Harelquins to a 26-20 win.

At the heart of much of the defending champions’ play was Tommy Allan, handed the starting ten shirt in the absence of Marcus Smith, who balanced moments of extravagance with a degree of calm and control. 

Allan will have a crucial role to play for Matson’s side, with Smith enjoying an extended break until the meeting with Bristol Bears on October 8 and likely to be otherwise engaged with England at times later in the season.

The first impressions of the Italian would have encouraged Matson. Allan twice danced delightfully through the Falcons defence to set up tries for Joe Marchant and Lynagh. 

“Tommy Allan slotted into the system really well,” said Harlequins’ director of rugby Billy Millard. 

“It’s not easy stepping in especially with big boots to fill unless you’re smart, skilful and experienced.

“That’s what he brings to the table. He is an international quality player who is very balanced, and he’s done very well,” continued Millard of a performance in which Allan also kicked well from the tee and out of hand.

Flying wing Adam Radwan impressed for Newcastle (Getty Images)
Flying wing Adam Radwan impressed for Newcastle (Getty Images)

Of concern for Harlequins may be the manner in which Newcastle’s outside backs were at time able to run rampant. Adam Radwan was at times irrepressible as he roamed off his wing in another impressive showing for a player who made his debut for England earlier this summer. 

It would be little surprise to find his name among a training squad to be named by Eddie Jones on Tuesday. 

Radwan scored one and created another for wing colleague Iwan Stephens with a devastating weaving kick-return.

Stephens was then denied what could have been a crucial second after an outstanding cover tackle from Tyrone Green forced him into touch. 

Falcons did at least snare a late losing bonus point with Will Hayden-Wood’s calmly converted penalty bringing them within the requisite seven points with the clock in the red, but it was to be but a consolation as Harlequins kicked off the defence of their crown with an impressive away win. 

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