Evans stars in final home game
FRIDAY PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Nick Evans capped a memorable final appearance for Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop by scoring 22 points as they downed Premiership league-leaders Wasps 32-13.
The New Zealand international arrived at Harlequins in 2008 and has been a key ingredient in the club's success over the last ten years – and against Wasps he turned back the clocks with an all-action display ahead of his retirement.
Heading into the encounter, Wasps knew a bonus-point win would have secured them top spot in the Premiership and guaranteed a home semifinal but now they must beat Saracens next weekend in Round 22.
Comparatively, Harlequins are firmly in the hunt for a top-six finish after Tim Visser and Joe Marchant tries – and a near flawless kicking display from Evans – delivered the goods.
In Friday's other game, Sonatane Takulua scored all of Newcastle Falcons' points – including a late converted try – to down a spirited Worcester Warriors side in the North East.
Falcons led 6-0 at the break courtesy of Takulua's boot an built their lead up to nine points after the break.
But Warriors fought back and scored through Wynand Olivier and a penalty try to lead the match with 15 minutes to go.
And Takulua was the hero after he squeezed over the line and converted his own try to edge the contest by two points.
Harlequins 32-13 Wasps
On an emotional day for veteran flyhalf Nick Evans, it was the 36-year-old who opened the scoring.
The All Black, who is the fourth highest point's scorer in Premiership history, scored a penalty on 11 minutes after Quins won a penalty at the line-out.
In a scrappy opening quarter, the game was littered with turnovers and handling errors as both teams struggled to get an attacking foothold in the game.
Despite being under pressure for much of the opening 15 minutes, Wasps had a chance to level the scores on 13 minutes but the usually reliable Jimmy Gopperth dragged his penalty attempt wide.
Wasps have only won once at the Twickenham Stoop in the last ten seasons and that was by a single point in February 2013 and that statistic never looked like improving in the early stages after a sluggish start.
Joe Marchant created the game's opening try-scoring opportunity but with the line in sight, England wing Marland Yarde couldn't take the offload and the chance went begging.
Wasps scored the opening try of the game after 25 minutes – Gopperth claimed a high ball on halfway from Brown, sidestepped the Quins defence before breaking through and offloading to Dan Robson to touch down. Gopperth added the extras to leave the score 7-3.
Quins narrowed the gap to just a solitary point on 35 minutes as Kearnan Myall was penalised for a high tackle and Evans did the business off the tee.
And just 60 seconds later Evans had another shot at goal but this time the veteran All Black fluffed his lines.
But with the near last kick of the half it was Wasps who stretched their lead to 10-6 as Gopperth landed another penalty.
Harlequins opened their try account four minutes into the second half through Scotland international Tim Visser. Chris Robshaw broke through and delivered the crucial pass for Visser to score, with Evans adding the conversion to leave it at 13-10.
And it got worse on 51 minutes for Wasps as more penalties conceded at the breakdown saw Evans extend Harlequins lead with another penalty.
The job got harder for Wasps on 58 minutes as South African Willie Le Roux was sin-binned for taking Marchant out in the air.
Evans made no mistake off the tee as Harlequins stretched their lead but shortly after Gopperth replied for the visitors with a penalty of his own to leave it at 19-13 with just under 20 minutes to play.
Le Roux may have returned to the action but numerical parity did little to assist Wasps as Evans once again edged Quins nine points ahead.
With seven minutes to play England international Joe Launchbury was sin-binned on his own tryline and from the resulting penalty Evans delivered another three points.
And Quins sealed a comprehensive win in the final minute as Marchant raced through to score a try under the posts, Evans again adding the extra two points off the tee.
Tries: Visser, Marchant
Cons: Evans 2
Pens: Evans 6
Cons: Gopperth 2
Yellow Cards: Willie le Roux (Wasps, 57 - dangerous play), Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 72)
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (captain), 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 George Merrick, 20 Dave Ward, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Alapati Leiua.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Simon McConnell
TMO: Sean Davey
Newcastle Falcons 16-14 Worcester Warriors
Neither side got off the mark in the first quarter with flyhalves Joel Hodgson and Ryan Mills battling for territory.
The Warriors scrum held firm at set-piece time and the dangerous Falcons' backs struggled to slice through the impressive defending of Mills and Ben Te'o.
But it was Falcons who eventually opened the scoring. Hodgson probed into the corner and, from the resulting line-out, Falcons earned a precious penalty which Takulua coolly dispatched to give the hosts the first points.
Minutes later, Worcester wasted possession allowing the hosts to kick deep once again and win another penalty in front of the sticks, Takulua made no mistake.
Falcons extended their lead after the break when Sonatane Takulua nudged over another penalty which stirred Warriors into action.
Te'o challenged the gain line but was met by a wall of black which was indicative of the match as Falcons defence held firm for large parts.
Warriors, however, found a breakthrough when their rolling maul looked destined to go over the tryline but was pulled down, referee Greg Garner had no option but to award the penalty try, Mills converted to cut Falcons' lead to two.
And it got better for Warriors when Perry Humphreys glided past the Falcons defence to find Bryce Heem in space. Heem almost made it to the line and offloaded to Olivier who put the visitors ahead, Ryan Mills added the extras from the tee.
But Falcons were not giving up and Marcus Watson was denied at close range by Warriors’ fullback Chris Pennell until the decisive moment came.
Takulua squeezed over the line from a five-metre scrum and added the extras to see Falcons home in their last Premiership home game of the season.
Pens: Takulua 3
Tries: Olivier, Penalty Try
Cons: Mills 2
Yellow cards: Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons, 51), Will Spencer (Worcester Warriors, 60)
Newcastle: 15 Marcus Watson, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Opeti Fonua, 20 Will Witty, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Alex Tait.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Ryan Mills (captain), 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Alafoti Faosiliva, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Cooper Vuna.
Referee: Greg M Garner
Assistant Referees: John Meredith, Roger Baileff
TMO: Stuart Terheege