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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Harlequins back to winning ways at the Twickenham Stoop

It was an exciting round 20 clash in the Premiership; Harlequins looking to stay in the top four whilst Bath were fighting to keep 6th spot and a place in the European Cup next season.

The weather threatened rain but that did not prevent over 14300 supporters from attending The Stoop; the voices of the Quins’ fans singing out loud and proud.

Bath kicked off proceedings and after play settled there was no doubt this was going to be a tough match.

Both teams were attacking and tackling hard. Bath passed accurately but a strong home side would not allow the visitors out of their 22.

Then Quins' no. 10 Nick Evans kicked long but failed to find touch, allowing Bath to collect and push up to Quins’ 10 metre line.

Infringements caused the first points of the game when the home side were penalised for not rolling away. The visitors opted for the posts and within 6 minutes found themselves on the scoreboard.

Following the restart Bath had good possession but again strong tackling by the home side forced Bath to change tactics. They tried to chip-through, handing possession back to Quins who decided to run with ball in hand.

They travelled up the pitch and sent the ball into touch for a Bath line-out. They retained possession and opted to kick, allowing Brown to collect. Rugby turned into football in an attempt to gain territory however a superb ball into touch by Bath meant Quins had to defend a line-out on their 22.

This they did well. There was a fast pace about Quins' play this week and they chased more high-balls. Their dominance in the scrums was also returning and they earned themselves a penalty resulting in an attacking line-out on Bath’s 22.

Although they kept possession they could only form a slow maul. This was met by a strong defence which gave Bath the scrum, which escalated into a penalty.

Bath however failed to find touch having sent the ball back into the Quins territory but they chased well. An attempted interception by the visitors was knocked-on allowing Quins the scrum. They then started to run their way up the field. Fancy footwork from Care broke through Bath’s defence and play hastened into the visitors’ half.

Bath regrouped and Quins sent the ball up-and-over towards the try line and good chasing pressure forced Bath to take the ball into touch just 5 metres from their try line.

Harlequins retained possession but a strong push by Bath in the maul which followed forced a knock-on. A passage of play then occurred seeing Quins win back the put-in only to be penalised for not hitting straight.

The ball was kicked back to the half-way line and matters worsened as Quins knocked-on. They were again penalised for raising the scrum and after 22 minutes Bath doubled their score to 6 points.

Botica then entered the field of play, replacing Hopper. His impact was noted from the start.

Following a ‘spirited’ period of possession, Quins earned a penalty and decided to get points on the board. Within 5 minutes of Botica entering play he clawed back 3 points for the home side.

Bath opted for a long restart, allowing Quins to collect. They chose to run with ball in hand, breaking through defence and offloading well. Another penalty to Quins and Botica brought them level having been on the pitch just 10 minutes.

Bath and Quins both gave as good as they got; attacking and defending. The visitors were awarded a penalty kick which they put into touch after Care attempted to play the ball whilst it was still in the Bath scrum.

Urgent defending by Quins followed as Bath pushed for the line. Referee Wayne Barnes then stopped play and brought the TMO into action questioning a high tackle. Bath were awarded a penalty and regained the lead in the final play of the first half.

Half Time: Harlequins 6 – 9 Bath Rugby

It was now heavily raining and the thought of balls being knocked-on was accurate.

Harlequins saw an opening and kicked, starting a race for the line. They earned a line-out; formed a maul; and were awarded advantage.

Care broke away from the maul and crossed for a try, converted by Botica within 7 minutes of second-half play. For the first time this match Harlequins took the lead.

Birthday boy Monye then joined the field of play in replace of Smith.

Quins had a scrum inside their own half and when Bath were penalised this turned into a penalty kick and line-out on Bath’s 22. They moved play wide and although the visitor’s regained possession, an attempted kick was blocked and brute force dragged Bath into touch for a Quins’ attacking line-out.

The ball was passed out and in a strange piece of play Easter decided to chip-over allowing an easy ‘mark’ for Bath who then kicked into touch.

Quins retained line-out ball and earned a penalty. The boot of Botica adding another three points with just over a quarter of the game to play.

Danny Care was then rested, with Dickson coming on as his replacement.

Possession changed hands with regular occurrence until Quins earned a line-out. They chose to kick high and chase. Initially this seemed a wasted opportunity until miscommunication by Bath allowed birthday-boy Monye to score. A quick check with the TMO confirmed downward pressure on the ball.

Botica again converted and with 15 minutes still to play Quins had pulled away leaving Bath requiring two converted tries to draw level.

Both teams were still very determined. Quins pushed on with good offloads and looked like scoring again, getting within 5 metres of the try line.

Bath, too, continued to fight and did break the home team’s defence but it was through a forward pass.

It was a hard fought game but Harlequins were back to their winning ways.

Full time: Harlequins 23 – 9 Bath Rugby
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 10:10 pm  

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