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Saturday, 2 March 2013

Premiership Action at the Twickenham Stoop

It was round 17 of the Aviva Premiership. League leaders Harlequins played host to 8th placed Exeter Chiefs at the Twickenham Stoop.

On their previous meeting in October the Chiefs outplayed the Quins with a 42-28 win. There was belief that this time it was going to be different.

The opening couple of minutes saw the usual ball-to-foot tactics. Once play settled it was clear both teams were up for this meeting. Fast hands from both sides met with strong defence.

Quins' Ugo Monye made a break only to be forced into an awkward offload, seeing Easter knock-on. Exeter, however, did not punish them as they should have done - the dominance of the Quins scrum forced the visitors to collapse, earning a kick into touch.

A good catch in the line-out saw Quins move the ball wide to the ever-ready hands of Monye who crossed the line for a try. Evans, returning from an ankle injury, added the conversion and within 8 minutes the home side were leading 7-0.

However pressure from the Chief's restart saw Quins miskick into touch, giving the visitors an attacking line-out which they took quickly. Despite strong tackles from the home side, they were penalised for not rolling away and handed Exeter an easy 3 point penalty.

Exeter kept piling on the pressure, Quins found themselves confined to their own half. Another knock-on from the league leaders allowed Exeter to come within 1 point of the hosts.

Quins did not fade; they responded immediately with fast hands and quick feet managing to break through the staunch Exeter defence. Once again, however, in their attempt to keep momentum the Quins rushed another pass which missed it's intended target and went into touch.

Although the Chiefs had the throw, Quins' defence was firm. They intercepted an attempted offload and pushed on earning a shot at the posts after Exeter were penalised. Evans, however, did not have the legs and the ball fell short.

10 minutes from the half-time break and the Chiefs took the lead with another penalty kick between the posts.

There was still a glimmer of hope with Hopper breaking through but this came to nothing. Exeter were given the put-in at a scum caused by yet another Quins knock-on, however the Chiefs collapsed under pressure allowing Quins to regain the lead though a penalty kick which was on target.

The home side did have the opportunity to pull away from the visitors with another penalty kick just before half-time but the usually reliable boot of Evans was not present today - another miss.

Half-Time: Harlequins 10 - 9 Exeter Chiefs

Exeter took the advantage in the opening minutes of the second half, taking an early lead after Quins were penalised in the ruck.

The reigning Champions looked like crossing the tryline after Guest charged down a clearance kick from the Chiefs. However he lacked support and Exeter regained possession.

Quins regained the lead after Botica took over kicking duties, adding three points through a successful penalty: 13-12. His boot came in useful less than 5 minutes later after Exeter knock-on and then raise the scrum. Quins pulled 4 points clear.

A tactic which proved very useful for Exeter was their quick restarts and chases. This caught the Quins napping and forced a penalty in front of the posts. The Chiefs were closing in after yet another succesful kick.

The visitors nearly scored a try after a sneaky chip-through sent Quins scurrying backwards but it went into touch and a strong line-out allowed Quins to clear.

A few minutes later Exeter had another opportunity to score, breaking through the Quins defence but fumbling 5 metres from the line.

The scrum went to Quins but it was a period of great pressure. They chose to run it from deep and when the defence of Exeter stood firm, Quins opted to kick. This went straight into touch handing the visitor's an attacking line-out. Exeter retained possession and pushed themselves through a determined Quins' defence and over for an unconverted try.

The home side kept battling away but Exeter won turnover ball and pushed up the field, tackled into touch just short of another try.

Although Quins kept possession in the line-out, they were unable to escape their own half. The Chiefs attempted another chip-through which was collected by the home side and sent down the field. The Chiefs were waiting. They collected the ball and ran through a tired defence, adding another 7 points to their tally with a converted try.

This was the last score of the game with 7 minutes remaining. Quins never gave up but they looked tired. Exeter Chiefs attacked fast and defended hard.

A good win for the Chiefs. Harlequins remain top this evening but Saracens are yet to play. Only 1 point ahead, no bonus point this game; the reigning Champions are likely to slip into second before this weekend comes to a close.

Full Time: Harlequins 16 - 27 Exeter Chiefs.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 10:50 pm  

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