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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Double Centurian Robshaw leads Harlequins to victory at the Twickenham Stoop

Excitement was felt in the air and an expectant fan base took their seats. It was a wet start to the day but as the minutes counted down to kick off, the rain stopped and the sunshine broke through.

The scene was set for an epic clash. Not since 2009 and the Bloodgate Scandal have these two teams met. Chris Robshaw, back from leading England in the recent Autumn Internationals, took to the field for his 200th appearance for Harlequins.

Within the first few minute we had a scrum, the referee ended up on the floor and Leinster showed us just why they are such a threat. Many phases of play, quick passing and brutal strength. As their scrum half Reddan left the field for an assessment, Leinster started the scorecard ticking over with a penalty from Madigan.

Harlequins, however, were not phased and a great take from Easter put Quins on the front foot. Evans levelled the score 3-3.

A scrum was awarded to Leinster following a knock-on within Quins' half. The home side scrum was dominant and a penalty awarded was kicked long for a line out. Robson directed the ball to Care who passed quickly. Despite their efforts the ball was stolen and Leinster kicked for a chase. No problems for Quins who defended well and earned another penalty, easing the pressure.

Trouble was brewing as fly-half Nick Evans left the field injured and on came inexperienced Swiel after just 12 minutes; Leinster saw the return of their scrum half.

The visitors continued to look menacing: very fast and accurate ball, sending play from one wing to the other. A good tackle from Tikoirotuma forced the visitors to knock on. Again Quins dominated in the scrum, winning a penalty. The lineout, however, was not so good - the ball sliced into touch handing possession to Leinster. As luck would have it, the visitors knocked on.

Quins had the opportunity to go in front but Swiel pushed it wide, nerves getting the better of him on this occasion. With 19 minutes gone Swiel did secure the lead after Leinster were penalised for going offside: 6-3.

Again Harlequins dominated the scrum and pushed themselves into Leinster's half once again. A successful lineout saw a good take by Robson, who gathered for a maul. Leinster stole the ball but momentum stayed with Quins after charging down a kick. A moment of indiscipline however allowed the visitors to send play back into the Quins 22 and Madigan tied the score after another penalty.

It went from bad to worse as Swiel sent the restart ball straight into touch. For all their earlier threats, however, Leinster seemed unable to break through the strong Quins defence - knocking on just inside the half way line. This time the home side found themselves penalised in the scrum but the penalty kick which followed fell short of the posts.

Quins were awarded another scrum and they fed the ball, retrieved it and kept ball in hand, moving it around the players. A penalty was awarded to Quins and Swiel again attempted the posts, kicking the home side back in front.

Yarde successfully gathered the restart and the ball was sent long for territory. Leinster's fast pace saw the ball back in Quins' territory sooner than the home side had wanted however strong tackles forced a knock on. This time the visitors dominated in the scrum, formed a maul and pushed up the field. A penalty to the visitors brought them level going into half time.

Half Time: Harlequins 9 - 9 Leinster

Quins kicked off the second half and the ball was gathered by Leinster who kicked back - a standard second-half play of football ensued to steady the nerves.

The home side did break through however a miss-pass allowed Leinster to kick back. Yarde won the race back to claim the ball.

A scrum was awarded to Quins just inside the visitors half. Possession did not last long as an infringement allowed Leinster a lineout within the home side's territory. They caught the ball, formed a maul and pushed on, earning a penalty which they sent through the posts: Leinster lead 9-12.

From the restart the visitors ran the ball back to the half way line. Again they attempted a chip through but Brown was there waiting, sending the ball back.

Fijian-born Harlequins player Tikoirotuma made a run down the wing but an attempted kick and chase went into touch. Following the lineout, Quins were awarded a scrum. They sent the ball wide to Brown who then started passing it back to the other wing. Another penalty was awarded to Quins and they attempted to take it quickly but were called back.
They kicked to the corner for an attacking lineout. The home side retained the ball, formed a maul and passed it out. After a visit to the Television Match Official Quins took the lead after Easter scored. Swiel added the conversion: 16-12 after 53 minutes.

A scrum was awarded to Leinster following the restart but Quins stole possession. Wallace broke through the opposition defence but was called back - a forward pass being the culprit.

The visitors were awarded another scrum and they started bearing down on the home side's whitewash. Feeling a little too confident, they failed to see Tikoirotuma waiting. The number 11 intercepted and ran the length of the field to score. This time it was not converted. 21-12 after 60 minutes.

Leinster saw an opportunity to strike back immediately but a forward pass handed a scrum to Quins, easing the pressure.

The visitors still looked dangerous and only strong tackles kept them at bay. Leinster's persistence earned them a penalty after the home side were caught coming off their feet.

The visitors retained possession in the lineout and earned another penalty. Madigan added another three points: 21-15.

Another lineout to Leinster, this time just outside the Quins 22. Advantage was being played and after accidental obstruction, it was moved back to the original penalty where Madigan again went for the posts: 21-18.

Leinster claimed the restart ball and formed a maul. They then kicked for territory. Brown retrieved it but handed play back to Leinster who knocked on. Quins kicked to safety but did not make much ground. Leinster, however, took the ball into touch. Play was stopped momentarily after Leinster were penalised for disrupting the lineout. Quins kicked for a lineout in the visitors half. After retaining the ball they grab and drive, eventually sending the ball out wide. Play reverted back to the centre and Danny Care extend the home side lead through a drop goal: 24-18.

Harlequins' Captain Marler had to be substituted after an injuring himself during a tackle.

A scrum was awarded to Quins with 4 minutes left. Then a penalty. Again the home side kicked long for a final attacking lineout. They retained possession, formed a maul then grab and drive, running down the clock. Leinster could still win the game with a converted try.

Quins, however, were confident and controlled the ball well, kicking it out to end the game.

A mighty win for the mighty Quins - top of pool 2.

Full Time: Harlequins 24 - 18 Leinster

Nick Easter was named man of the match.

Next week sees the return match as Harlequins travel to Leinster.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 11:00 pm  

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