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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Harlequins stung by Wasps in the European Cup

A chilly night descended on the Twickenham Stoop for round 5 of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

Heading into the weekend Harlequins were leading Pool 2 – equal on points with Leinster but with a greater for/against points difference.

After a strong performance last weekend in the England Premiership, the home side fans were hoping for an equally strong performance this week.

Botica kicked off and play settled with Quins in possession after high ball was kicked back and forth.

The first scrum of the game came just two minutes in with Wasps having the put-in. Danny Care wrapped up his opposing number 9 but not before Simpson offloaded.

The visitors were awarded a penalty and within 4 minutes Andy Goode had kicked Wasps into the lead – Williams penalised for a high tackle but only issued a warning.

The visitors threw the first line-out ball of the game before 5 minutes had passed. They won line-out ball and kicked long, only for Quins to gather and run it back. The ball reached the hands of Yarde and the atmosphere in the stadium electrified as he once again stormed through the defence in play which mirrored his performance against Leicester Tigers last weekend.

A double tackle eventually brought him down.

Scrum to Quins in the opposition half. Clifford again willing to tackle the defence head on. It was a wasted opportunity for the home side after they opted to box-kick out; the ball was caught and the mark called.

Wasps kicked back and Easter passed quickly to Brown. A try-scoring moment came and went for the home side after a break-away was kicked long for Yarde who was tackled, knocking the ball into touch just short of the line.

After the line-out Quins earned a penalty which they took quickly. Unfortunately the moment got the better of them and rushed passes meant mistakes were made. The ball was intercepted by Wade who ran three-quarters of the field for an easy try. Converted. After 12 minutes the visitors were building a lead 0-10.

Excitement built every time Brown gathered the ball. He would make strides forward. Penalty to Quins who kicked long for an attacking line-out just outside the visitor's 22. The ball was sent wide to Brown who attempted to chip through the defence for Yarde but it was not clean and another opportunity wasted as Wasps gathered and kicked into touch.

Back in the field of play and things started to stagnate; Matthews being dragged into touch for a Wasps line-out.

They won their line-out and kicked back into touch, Botica collecting and passing quickly to Easter and Brown in turn who again sliced a kick which went straight into touch, play returning to the Quins half. Wasps scrum-half Simpson sold a dummy and crossed the line for a try which was converted by Goode. After a quarter of the game the visitors found themselves 17 points up with no reply from the hosts.

Following the re-start a scrum was awarded to Wasps who spilled the ball whilst under tackle. Botica again chipped over the defence but without a strong chase it fell into the hands of the visitors. Luckily for the home side Wasps knocked on and advantage was being played. Quins made their way to 5 metres from the line. No matter what they did Quins were unable to break through.

Wasps were looking to disrupt this run of play but knocked on whilst attempting an interception. Scrum to Quins so close to the try-line. The fans, raising their voices in song, had to wait for a re-set scrum after Wasps pushed before the ball was put in. The visitors repeated the error and Quins opted for a third attempt. The ball was fed, released quickly, but still the home side could not power their way through. Botica chipped over and a chase ensued. Yarde did not make it.

Wasps restarted the game and Quins progressed up the field once more. A penalty was awarded to the home side and Care again took it quickly but a lack of support meant his intentions were unfulfilled. After 30 minutes a yellow card was waved at Wasps' no. 8 Nathan Hughes following a succession of penalties and Quins opted for an attacking line-out.

They retained possession and formed a maul. On it's collapse the penalty was awarded to Wasps after Quins were accused of holding on.

They retained possesion in the scrum but then box-kicked out into the arms of Brown. Wasps stole the ball in a turnover at the ruck and again kicked out of trouble. Quins threw the ball in a quick line-out, gathered and passed quickly. Play was messy but somehow the home side were progressing slowly but surely. The ball was passed from one wing to the other and again Botica chipped through for an easy collection by Wasps. Another opportunity wasted.

After the re-start Quins again pushed up the field. A penalty was awarded after an offside tackle. Care went quickly but was tackled. Wasps knocked-on handing a scrum to Quins 5 metres from the line.

The fans once again raised their voices, ebbing on Harlequins. The ball was fed and the scrum powered forward. Possession switched to Wasps but illegally. Another scrum. This time it was fed and released quickly. Passes were being intercepted but from an offside position allowing Quins to play advantage. Still they could not break through. Eventually a penalty was awarded to Wasps after the home side failed to release the ball. They kicked for a line-out just outside their own 22.

The line-out ball was thrown, gathered, but another infringement put an end to the first half.

A frustrating opening 40 minutes for Harlequins. The visitors earned two converted tries and a penalty without a single point for the home side. Despite being 1 man down for the last period of play Wasps' defence could not be broken.

It was a scrappy first half where Harlequins did not seem to settle. They had the possession and the territory but some loose passes and questionable decisions by the attacking side meant potential was unfulfilled. Botica and Brown both having issues with the boot. Quins needed to keep ball in hand and take points when offered. The number of penalties awarded to the home side was not reflected on the scoreboard.

Only one replacement this half: Gaskell on for Myall (Wasps).

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 0 – 17 Wasps

Quins fans were hoping Director of Rugby Conor O'Shea had given the guys a talking to during the break. Although their intentions were positive, the accuracy in the exceution had been lacking.

Wasps got the second half underway; Quins collected and kicked back. The visitors then ran with ball in hand and broke through the defence – an ominous sign so early in this half. Penalty awarded to Wasps within two minutes of the second half which Goode attempted just inside the half-way line. Amazingly it went over and Wasps extend their lead further: 0-20

Re-start ball was collected by Hughes. Wasps kicked out of the ruck allowing Quins to press up the field. A dummy by Care allowed him to run straight through the defensive line. Up to the 22 and they passed out to the wing. Penalty awarded for offside and this time they opted for the posts.

After 45 minutes of play Harlequins finally got some points on the board. The boot of Botica earning his side three points: 3-20

A game of football ensued to settle the nerves and Quins came away with possession. Over the half-way line and they opted to grab and drive, eventually spilling the ball.

Blood replacement for Quins: Williams off, Walker on 48th minute.

Quins tried to run the ball from deep in their own half but again the visiting defence was firm. They kicked only for Goode to collect and start the Wasps charge once more. They thought they had scored another try but the whistle had already blown for a Quins penalty.

Replacement for Wasps: Cittadini off for Cooper-Woolley after 50 minutes.

Blood replacement for Harlequins: Yarde off for Evans after 50 minutes. A loss for Yarde to come off but a cheer welcoming Evans to the field.

A scrum was awarded to Wasps just inside their own half. Re-set. Upgraded to a penalty for the visitors. They opted for the posts and no. 13 Daly kicked a successful penalty from within his own half (56 metres): 3-23 after 53 minutes.

The re-start was kicked long by Quins and Wasps kicked it back. Walker gathered and made strides through the defence deep in the visitor's half. Williams returned to the field; Walker stayed on but Botica was replaced.

Quick hands from Brown allowed Walker to sprint along the touchline but his attempted chip through went into touch for a line-out in the visitors half. They kept possesion and Simpson broke through the Quins defence making strides for the tryline. He was eventually brought down. Quins stole possesion and kicked long only for Wasps to gather and start making their way up the field again.

Quins again stole the ball but Wasps were awarded the scrum.

Festuccia replaced Shervington for Wasps; Buchanan on for Gray for Harlequins after 59 minutes.

Yarde returned to the field with Williams being replaced.

The scrum was re-set a second time. Goode crossed the game line but was tackled. Quins were awarded a scrum.

With less than a quarter of the game left Harlequins had a lot to do. They needed three converted tries to take the lead.

There were groans from the fans as Evans kicked long but he was accurate and the ball ran into touch inside the visitor's 22.

Wasps won their lineout and formed a maul. The only way Quins were able to stop it was to bring it down handing a penalty to the visitors. They kicked for a line-out just inside the home side's half. Matthews was able to slap the ball onto the Quins' side but passing was slow. They earned a penalty after Wasps failed to release a tackled player.

Evans kicked for a line-out just outside the Wasps' 22. Although they retained possesion a miss-pass to Yarde landed in the visitor's hands and they kicked for a chase. Brown back-tracked quickly and allowed the ball to run over the line to touch down for a relieving kick.

Quins made their way up the field – strong support for each other but the defence would not let them through. Nick Evans side-stepped his way past bringing hope to a quieting stadium but the offload was juggled and eventually went into touch for a Wasps throw. They retrieved and box-kicked out. It went into touch and this time Quins did not take it quickly.

Clifford off for Chisholm (Harlequins); Leiua off for Jacobs (Wasps).

Walker again found himself racing for the try-line but was nudged off the ball. A 5 metre-scrum with just 10 minutes left to play.

Wasps kicked into touch, taken quickly by Quins who made it back into the opposition half. Scrum to Wasps who earned a penalty.

Another change for Harlequins as Matthews went off for Twomey with just 8 minutes left to play.

Lineout to Wasps who successfully threw long. They were looking to increase their points difference.

Goode dropped back for an attempted drop-goal but it went wide of the posts.

More misery for the home side as a knock-on handed possesion to Wasps. The visitors were then awarded a scrum with less than 5 minutes to play. They secured ball, broke and attempted to chip over. Yarde was there to catch and start making strides back.

Wasps still had pace at the end of the game and cut through the home side's defence. Wade caught a lovely high ball to bring the visitors closer to the try line.

Scrum to Quins; upgraded to a penalty but this was deep within their own half. Quins kicked but did not find touch allowing Wasps to come again.

In a rare sight at The Twickenham Stoop the seats were being vacated before the final whistle.

Marfo came on for Collier with 2 minutes left for the home side.

Wasps found themselves metres from the try-line but were penalised for holding on. Time was tight so Quins kicked quickly for a last attempt at redemption.

They threw and passed quickly. It came to nothing as the final whistle blew bringing a close to the game.

Full-Time at thwe Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 3 – Wasps 23

A scoreline which did not reflect the possession and territory of Quins but did highlight the missed opportunities.

In the European Rugby Champions Cup Harlequins find themselves down from 1st place in Pool 2 to 3rd. Although they are not out of the competition, it puts additional pressure on their peformance away next week to Castres.

Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O'Shea spoke with Radio Jackie's Natalie Osborne after the game:

Wasps Captain James Haskell was named Man of the Match.

Attendance: 14,132.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 10:50 am  

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