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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Harlequins end losing streak with a win over London Irish at the Twickenham Stoop

Clear blue skies greeted the two sides as they emerged on the pitch at the Twickenham Stoop. Harlequins versus London Irish.

The home side had not won since January and were determined to end a 3-game losing streak in the Premiership (5 games through all competitions).

Past performance between these two teams gave Quins the advantage; having lost only one of their last five meetings against the Exiles.

Luke Wallace, at only 24 years old, earned his 100th senior cap and led Harlequins out to face their rivals.

Evans kicked off proceedings and Irish, wearing white, put immediate pressure on the home side. It was Quins, however, who earned the first penalty after stealing possession and Evans kicked to the corner for an attacking line-out within the opening two minutes.

They secured line-out ball well and supported each other, pressuring the try line. The referee, JP Doyle, paused play for a check with the video referee. A penalty was given and Evans opened the scoring with 3 points kicked right in front of the posts.

The re-start was kicked long and Quins had a line-out deep in their own 22.

Robson, captain for today, took it well and the defence came in to give Care enough time to box-kick out.

The ball was eventually collected and sent back with another line-out on the Quins' 22 which Matthews secured. Evans kicked long; it was returned and Quins then attempted to run out of their own half.

Lambert was forced to act as scrum-half as Care was buried deep within the ruck. It was passed to
Easter who took a heavy hit. The ball was then kicked for Irish to gather.

The first scrum of the game came in the 9th minute within the visitor's 22. Quins had the put in. It was then re-set with Quins still in possession.

This time it was executed with efficiency and Yarde was illegally taken out, handing another penalty kick to Evans; another 3 points on the board and a verbal warning to London Irish. 6-0 after 11 minutes.

The visitors again sent the re-start long and it was knocked on handing a scrum to Quins just outside their own 22. Again it collapsed. Irish applied the pressure when the ball was fed a second time and earned a penalty. They kicked for an attacking line-out and Quins stole. The referee stopped play, handing possession back to the visitors for interference in the line-out.

This time Irish opted for the posts. After 15 minutes London Irish joined the scoreboard: 6-3.

The visitors gathered the re-start ball well but kicked it back. An aerial battle ensued until Evans kicked too far allowing the visitors to call the mark and clear their lines.

Quins won line-out ball but an attempted chip over was intercepted by London Irish. It eventually found touch with an Irish line-out just inside the home sides' half. Quins stole possession and made good progress up the field: Evans earning another opportunity to send the ball between the posts: 9-3 after 19 minutes.

The Exiles kicked off and Quins handed possession to the visitors with a scrum following a forward pass. Re-set scrum with Quins being penalised for not hitting straight.

Steele fed the ball for the visitors and the referee awarded them a penalty. Geraghty kicked between the posts bringing their deficit to just 3 points: 9-6.

Re-start and Quins retained possession. They were quick on their feet and attacked with purpose. Irish challenged at the breakdown and Quins were awarded another penalty which Evans placed well. The Exiles got another talking-to from the referee: 12-6 with 15 minutes left of the first half.

Quins gathered the re-start ball and Care box-kicked out. The visitors gathered and broke the Quins' defence but an important tap-tackle prevented a break-away try. They continued to push but the home side earned a scrum in their own 22.

It was fed quickly and sent back for Evans to clear. Irish sent it high; Evans collected and Quins ran with ball in hand. Easter still brimming with confidence from his England performances crossed the game line – always willing to get stuck in and push the boundaries.

Great teamwork allowed Care to cross for a try after 29 minutes; Hopper holding off his pass as long as possible to keep the defence focused on him and not the scrum-half. Evans converted: 19-6.

London Irish attempted to run out of their own half but spilled the ball forward. Quins acted quickly with the referee playing advantage. Play was, however, brought back for Evans to kick for a line-out.

In a rare line-out error this game, the home side over-threw the ball. London Irish gathered and kicked high. James Short beat Chisholm to the ball after the Quins' full-back allowed it to bounce and he powered on for an easy try for the visitors. It was converted: 19-13 with 5 minutes left of the first half.

A knock-on handed a scrum to London Irish. Re-set. It collapsed again and Quins were penalised. The visitors kicked for a line-out on the half-way line. They secured the ball but were unable to get a maul formed. They kicked high and Chisholm collected. It was fed back and cleared. Irish came again and after a spillage Quins kept possession and ran it out of their half.

Evans then kicked but Irish kicked back. It bounced awkwardly for Chisholm who was then rushed into kicking and he was charged down. Irish did not make the most of this opportunity allowing Robson to intercept a lazy pass. Quins pushed their way up the field. Tempers frayed as the Exiles were awarded possession. They kicked into touch to end the first half.

Harlequins by far had command of the half, playing with pace and intent. However a lack of concentration allowed an easy try for the visitors and an opening back into the game.

Half-Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 19 – 13 London Irish

There was still an air of optimism in The Stoop and the fans, as vocal as ever, cheered Harlequins back onto the pitch for the second half.

London Irish got proceedings underway. Quins sent it back and Irish chose to run with the ball. They made it into the home side's half and a grubber kick was gathered safely by Quins who then earned the put-in at the scrum. Penalty to Quins and Evans managed to find touch just inside the Irish half.

The ball was gathered and passed quickly. Another penalty to Quins after an illegal steal and Evans again placed the kick well into the corner. Matthews juggled but secured line-out ball. A maul was formed and advantage was awarded to the home side who again kicked for a line-out. The referee spoke to London Irish but no card issued.

Another successful line-out for Quins who passed quickly and used group strength to push on.

Irish stole and made it out of Quins' 22 before kicking long. Chisholm collected and ran; the home side back into the Irish 22 with Hopper crossing the try line. Evans again split the posts: 26-13 with 31 minutes left.

London Irish were awarded the put-in at the scrum after Clifford knocked on whilst trying to secure re-start ball. The scrum was again re-set and after another collapse Quins were awarded the penalty after Irish failed to hit straight.

Evans kicked for a line-out just inside the Irish half. The ball reached Care who broke and chipped over but the bounce was favourable to Irish who carried it back across their own line.

Matthews received attention from the physios and was replaced by Talei with 27 mins left.

Scrum to Quins on the 5 metre line.

Irish pushed well and earned a penalty but could not make it out of their own half. They secured ball and kicked long only for Quins to run it back and Evans to clear.

A game of football ensued until Quins decided to run it back into the opposition half. Scrum to Irish just inside their half. Another penalty to Irish and Robson and Shields were spoken to by the referee.

At that point Shields, who was playing his first premiership start for Harlequins, was replaced by Marfo with 23 mins left.

Stealing line-out ball, Quins made strides forward and a grubber kick landed in touch 10 metres from the try line. Irish secured the ball but kicked long. Yarde ran it back into the visitor's half. It was then passed wide and went into touch for an Irish line-out still within their own half.

The Exiles took it well and chipped over into the waiting Quins arms. Football ensued until Irish kicked into touch. Quins took a quick line-out and made progress until it was knocked on for an Irish scrum on the half-way line.

The ball was out and Irish attacked quickly – too quickly throwing it straight into touch. Care came off, replaced by Dickson; Monye also entered play replacing Chisholm with 17 minutes left.

A good maul by Quins who then passed wide. Evans attempted a chip over but it was charged down, luckily still landing in Quins' hands.

Scrum to Quins and again good pressure from the visitors. The home side retained possession but kicked long for an Irish attack. Quins chased well and forced play back into the Irish 22.

A quick line-out by Quins and Irish stole the ball sending it from one wing to the other. Tom Fowlie crossed for a try with limited defence from Quins. It was converted and London Irish brought themselves within 6 points of the home side: 26-20 with 13 minutes left.

The re-start ball was secured by Irish who sent it back into the waiting arms of Monye. The ball was passed and kicked too long allowing Irish to call the mark and clear.

The home side secured line-out ball and powered forward but lost possession. Clifford made an important tap-tackle but seemed to have injured himself in the process. In typical rugby style Clifford shook it off an continued.

Irish were awarded a penalty and kicked for an attacking line-out. They formed a maul and passed. It reached the far wing before coming back central. Quins stood firm in defence and earned a penalty after the visitors failed to release the ball.

Evans kicked for a line-out on the half-way line. They secured it and formed a maul. Another penalty to Quins and Evans found touch deep within the visitor's half. It was thrown long but Quins retained possession. They worked together up the field and gradually made ground. Frustrating for the wingers as the ball was attacked centrally despite an available overlap.

Irish earned a penalty and cleared their lines. They retained possession at the line-out but Quins forced them back. They had to run from deep but were up to the challenge. Harlequins got the put-in at a scrum just inside their own half. It was re-set. Lambert ran with the ball but lost possession when attempting an offload.

Quins got turnover ball and Easter again powered over the game line. Another rushed offload by the home side handed possession to Irish who then made strides down the wing, going into touch and handing a line-out to Quins. They secured the ball and Dickson ran with it until the clock counted down.

He kicked into touch as the fans erupted with a win.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 26 – 20 London Irish

14,800 attendance.

Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O'Shea spoke with Radio Jackie's Natalie Osborne after the game. Go to the Radio Jackie Red Button to hear the interview.

With Gloucester's draw at home to Northampton Saints, the win for Harlequins has launched the Twickenham-based team into 8th place in the English Premiership.

A three-week break now follows for Quins who face a tough contest against Saracens at Wembley Stadium on 28th March.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 1:30 pm  

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