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Sunday, 18 October 2015

Harlequins start the new season with a win against Wasps

This weekend not only saw the Quarter-final rounds of the Rugby World Cup, round one of the Aviva premiership also got underway. With a longer pre-season both players and fans alike were left feeling very eager to get the new season underway.

Fly-half Nick Evans captained Harlequins Friday night as Danny Care missed the first game through injury.

The whistle blew and Evans got the game underway.

The home side started quickly and recycled well however the first penalty went against them allowing Wasps the first throw-in of the game just inside the home-side's half. Another penalty was awarded from the line-out and Wasps moved up into the Quins' 22. Unable to steal, the home side found themselves defending a rolling maul. Referee played advantage and blew for a Wasps' kick at the posts.

6 minutes in and their fly-half Gopperth put the visitors ahead 0-3.

Evans re-started and Wasps claimed it well. They box-kicked out allowing Quins come again. A swift penalty went the way of the home side and Evans lined up the posts. Scores were leveled after 9 minutes: 3-3.

Wasps kicked a short-ball but were unable to gather allowing Quins to clear out their half. Eventually play went into touch for a Wasps throw-in within their own half. The visitors were very quick with ball in hand and slowly created gaps in the Quins' defense. A knock-on, however, allowed Quins' the put-in at the scrum deep in their own half. This was then upgraded to a penalty as Wasps were penalised for not hitting straight.

Quins opted to tap and go and made good ground with a beautifully weighted chip through defense. The visitors gathered under pressure but the hosts were awarded a second shot at the posts. 15 minutes down and Harlequins found themselves leading through the boot of Evans: 6-3.

The re-start was collected well by Quins who kicked it back. Wasps decided to run it and a jeer from the crowd of a 'forward' pass went unnoticed as Wasps attacked the tryline. Their no. 3 Cooper-Woolley powered over to once again take the visitors ahead. Gopperth missed the conversion: 6-8 after 18 minutes.

The home side attempted to attack but a loose pass caused by a strong tackle allowed Wasps possession. Thumping tackles were being continually made by the home side and eventually they regained the ball. Evans decided to kick for territory but this only allowed Wasps to regather and attack. The visitors, however, knocked-on for a scrum just inside their half-way line.

The scrum did not settle and both teams got a talking-to from the referee who reset. The ball was fed quickly, back to no. 8 and new addition to the team Luamanu, who released it to Dickson. Quick hands passed it to no. 15 Lindsay-Hague then on to no. 14 Yarde who was bundled into touch at their 22.

Wasps won their line-out but the clearance kick was poor going into touch allowing Yarde to throw a quick line-out keeping play moving and progressing the hosts deep into the visitor's half. The referee addressed both captains and Quins no. 4 Horwill was deemed the offender in the ruck, penalised for a no-arm tackle. Wasps kicked for a line-out and advanced again.
Quins stole the ball and Evans placed a nicely weighted cross-field kick to Yarde who broke through. Dickson gathered the ball and chipped ahead for Evans to collect and cross for the line. He converted his own try bringing Quins back into the lead: 13-8 after 27 minutes.

The re-start was gathered well by Quins. They tried to run out of their half but strong defense from the visitors meant they could not break through; Wasps forced them to kick. They gathered and kicked back and Quins fumbled the catch allowing the visitors an attacking scrum deep in the hosts half. Quins were further penalised for bringing the scrum down and the visitors opted for the posts. A solid kick from Gopperth: 13-11 with 10 minutes left of the first half.

Quins kicked long; Wasps gathered and cleared into touch. The hosts took a quick line-out and made it into the opposition half. Their defence, however, was solid but Quins did not rush, slowly progressing up the field. They came within 5 metres of the line but spilled the ball forward allowing Wasps a lucky escape.

With everyone pushing up field, Yarde was forced to make a quick dash back into his own 22 to gather the ball which had been kicked long by Wasps. He returned to the visitor's half and a penalty earned Evans another shot at the posts. The woodwork, however, not generous to the home side on this occasion and kept the ball out. Wasps cleared into touch.

From the line-out Quins recycled quickly and Yarde once again found space. Into the 22 and Wasps turned over the ball and cleared into touch just shy of the half-way line. Quins kept possession in the line-out. An attempted grubber kick was blocked and although Quins broke free they were called back for a knock-on.

Wasps brought play back into the Quins' half and a scrum was then awarded to the visitors. This was upgraded to a penalty and in the dying minute of the first half Gopperth opted for the posts, pulling it wide.

There was time for one last play but the ball eventually went into touch.

Half-time: Harlequins 13 - 11 Wasps

The second half got underway and the first scrum occurred within the opening minute. This progressed to a penalty to Wasps even before the ball was fed.

The visitors opted to tap and go. A tackle by Lowe on their no. 8 Hughes made him spill the ball. Quins got into the opposition half but lost possession. Wasps decided to grab and drive, crossing the half-way line. They box-kicked and Lindsay-Hague gathered well.

The home side attempted to run the ball out of their half. Wasps defense was once again strong. Eventually Quins chipped over and Evans chased and gathered. Momentum increased for the home side as did the volume of support in the stadium, erupting when Lowe crossed for a try. Evans lined up his kick while the home fans sang their joy. He added the conversion and Quins found themselves 20-11 in the lead after 49 minutes.

Both sides played the kicking game to settle the nerves but Wasps eventually sliced it into touch in their own half. Ward delivered line-out ball; Wasps stole but knocked-on back into the hands of Quins.

They kicked for touch but it was too shot, allowing Wasps to gather and again slice into touch.
This time Ward's throw found Horwill and they formed a maul. A penalty was awarded and to the delight of the fans Evans kicked to the corner. This time Ward threw long and the fingertips failed to gather. Wasps claimed possession and sprinted into the hosts' half.

The defense soon gathered and slowed the advancing pace. The visitors kept threatening and the hard tackles kept coming. Although tempted to kick, Wasps decided to keep ball in hand and made ground.

Time for Quins to bring on the replacements: Lambert, Ward, Jones and Lindsay-Hague went off; Gray, Sinckler, Marler, and Brown came on to raucous applause with 25 minutes of the game still to play.

Their first action was to defend a scrum in their own 22.

A penalty was awarded to the visitors and they decided to tap and go. Defense was once again tested but Quins held firm and slowly pushed them back.

The arrival of the England heroes onto the field spurned new life into the Quins side however a penalty went against the hosts in front of the posts. An easy three points from the boot of Gopperth: 20-14 with a quarter of the game left to play.

Another England hero entered the field of battle – Nick Easter replaced Luamanu to another loud applause.

Brown took possession of a high ball to cheers and Quins again attempted to run the ball. They lost it, however, in a turnover.

Wasps recycled fast and their no. 15 Miller ran straight through the defense. Quins were forced back to defend hard on their 5 metre line. They stood up to the task and intercepted. The home side were awarded a penalty and chose to kick for a line-out.

Quins kept possession however it was not long before Wasps stole the ball. They made it deep into the host's half before knocking on.

From the scrum Quins earned a penalty and Evans kicked long for a line-out just outside the opposition 22. The hosts gathered and formed a rolling maul. They passed out to Yarde who made good ground, then on to Sinckler. Quins slowly moved play up field but Wasps again stole and kicked to safety.

Another line-out and Quins retained possession. There was slight concern for the home side as Sinckler was seen struggling and needing physio twice within a few minutes. He did, however, stay on the field.

Another scrum to Quins was awarded in the visitor's half. After it was reset, the hosts were awarded a penalty and this time Evans decided to go for the posts. As it currently stood Wasps need a converted try to win. Evans added the three points and pulled Quins 23-14 ahead with less than 10 minutes left.

Wasps kicked the re-start long and Quins gathered well. They tried to run the ball but the visitors applied pressure. Evans eventually box-kicked and good chasing by the home side saw Quins regather, albeit still within their own half. They recycled well but the pace was slow.

Quins opted to grab and drive over the half-way line before Dickson kicked ahead. Wasps gathered but ended up in touch.

With less than 7 minutes left Horwill was replaced by Matthews.

Quins won their line-out, formed a maul and earned a penalty. Evans again opted for the posts and the crowd applauded the decision. They wanted a win for the first game of the season. Another three points from the boot of the fly-half and captain: 26-14 with less than 5 minutes left.

Wasps were fired up and came again, sweeping past all defense for their no. 13 Daly to cross for a well-worked try less than a minute later. Jackson added the conversion bringing the game back into contention: 26-21.

This time for the re-start Evans kicked long and Quins chased to defend deep. Wasps were forced to kick into touch and Quins knocked-on in the line-out handing the visitors a scrum.
Quins, however, dominated this play and forced Wasps to use the ball quickly.

Time was up on the clock but Wasps kept ball in hand knowing a try would level the scores.

The ball was recycled time and again from one wing to the other. Eventually the ball was spilled forward and Brown tried to run it back up field before being tackled into touch.

Full time: Harlequins 26 - 21 Wasps

Harlequins got their season off to a winning start however Wasps earned a vital losing bonus-point.

Conor O'Shea, Harlequins Director of Rugby, spoke with Radio Jackie's Natalie Osborne after the game and you can listen to the interview on the Radio Jackie Red Button.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 11:47 pm  

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