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Friday, 14 October 2016

Dominant Harlequins secure maximum points as they launched their European campaign




Harlequins launched their European campaign with a home game against Stade Francais Paris last night.

Stade Francais had not won away from home this season in any competition and were looking to change the trend. Quins, meanwhile, had won all their home games and were hoping to keep their 100% record at the Twickenham Stoop. These two teams had met four times in the past, both with two wins and two losses. Most notably Quins had beaten the visitors in the final to lift the Challenge Cup in 2011.

Last night was a chilly night in South West London yet the atmosphere reflected the excitement of a game under the floodlights.

Stade Francais kicked off proceedings with a long ball into the Quins’ 22. Within seconds the hosts had earned a free kick as Swiel, fly-half for the evening in place of an inured Nick Evans, placed the ball in touch for a line-out on the half-way line.

The hosts kept possession and chants of ‘Harlequins’ sounded very early on in the game in both support and as a means of spurring the team on.

Playing advantage, the hosts attempted a cross-field kick for Marchant to run in for a try however the kick was long and went into touch.

Play was brought back and the hosts, believing they already had momentum over the visitors, opted for a 5 metre line-out, formed a maul and drove across the line with Joe Marler attributed the try. Within 4 minutes the hosts had a converted try on the scoreboard: Harlequins 7 – 0 Stade Francais.

Scrum on the halfway line for the hosts saw a penalty awarded to the visitors with Joe Marler showing his disagreement.

They kicked for a line-out on Quins’ 22.

The Pinks, tonight dressed in white, lost possession whilst moving the ball from wing to wing and the hosts once again had the put-in at a scrum on the halfway line. Dickson passed to Swiel who miss-kicked high. Despite a good challenge from Yarde, it was Stade Francais who regained possession.

They sent the ball high and Brown gathered well.

Another error from Swiel saw the ball go into touch on the full handing possession to France just outside the hosts’ 22.

Yarde made a great tackle on the advancing no.11 Sinzelle but was then penalised for not rolling away. The Pinks discussed options whilst Yarde shook off an injury and George Merrick was stretchered from the field; Sam Twomey coming on in his place (12 minutes elapsed).

Stade Francais restarted the game by kicking into touch for an attacking line-out instead of taking the three points. This was, as it turned out, a good decision for Quins who defended their line impeccably and earned themselves a free kick.

The impending line-out was then changed to a penalty which was taken quickly in a tap-and-go, courtesy of the French being offside.

An aerial battle ensued before The Pinks decided to run with ball in hand. Quins were not letting them proceed and were able to strip the ball, only for it to be taken back just a few phases later.

The forwards joined forces as Marler and Buchanan took on the French no. 5 – the effort of them both forcing the captain Pape to spill the ball forward.

The two forwards were called into action again in the scrum; ball secured with a long pass direct to the wing. The ball was then kicked long and an error by Stade Francais saw Joe Marchant take a glowing opportunity and cross for a try. The Television Match Official was called in to confirm the try. Replays confirmed Francais prevented the ball from going into touch but in doing so handed the ball to Marchant. The conversion was missed and after 18 minutes: Harlequins 12 – 0 Stade Francais Paris.

The visitors seemed to be at a loss, miss-passing, spilling balls and Quins were alert on this cold night in South West London. Visser and Brown combined in a superb effort to confuse the defence, with the no.11 ultimately ending up with the ball as he crossed the whitewash; conversion added: Harlequins 19 – 0 Stade Francais after 21 minutes.

Play resumed and Visser was once again alert to intercept a loose pass. ‘Ooos and ahhhhs’ resonated around the Twickenham Stoop as if it was Guy Fawkes night as Quins ran with ball in hand and passed solidly, ripping through the defence. Eventually play was slowed and halted as the ball trickled into touch on the right wing just short of the French try-line.

Stade Francais retrieved the ball and kicked to safety with a Quins’ line-out just inside the opposition
half.

The line-out, however, was thrown long allowing Francais a rare moment of possession in the Quins’ half. Very rare it turned out to be as the hosts soon pushed play back over the half-way line and earned themselves a scrum.

This was upgraded to a free-kick and Swiel duly found touch in the French 22.

This time the line-out worked well for the hosts who formed a maul and powered towards the line. Dickson retrieved the ball and the forwards went to work. A deceptive pass from Swiel allowed Yarde to make ground before the referee blew his whistle signalling a scrum.

The French scrum-half fed the ball and released it. Again Quins’ defence was working hard and limited the forward momentum. They were forced to kick and Yarde positioned himself well, one foot in touch, to catch the ball directly sending play back from where it had been kicked.

Stade Francais did steal possession but Marchant and Roberts combined well to double-tackle. Such was the defence that the visitors were forced to kick.

It was gathered easily by Yarde who then miss-kicked. Marchant tried to salvage the situation but knocked-on whilst trying to catch the high ball. It landed in the waiting arms of The Pinks and Macalou crossed for an easy try under the posts; conversion added whilst Yarde raised his hand admitting – and apologising for – his error. Harlequins 19 – 7 Stade Francais after 32 minutes.

It was not long before play was back in French territory but a long kick gave Yarde possession and he ran the ball right back. James Chsiholm took possession and muscled his way through tackles and over the line. Swiel successfully added the conversion: Harlequins 26 – 7 Stade Francais after 36 minutes.

The restart was long but into Quins’ arms. Dickson box-kicked out and the chase by the hosts allowed them to bundle The Pinks into touch on retrieving the ball. The hosts took a quick line-out and earned a scrum on the French half.

Dickson fed the re-set scrum and the hosts earned another free-kick; Marler once gain vocalising his opinion.

Swiel kicked for an attacking line-out in the French 22. Horwill offloaded to Chisholm whilst still in aerial mode and the no. 8 once again muscled his way over the line for his second try in quick succession. Swiel’s failed conversion was the final play of the first half.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 31 – 7 Stade Francais Paris

During the break the visitors replaced prop Taulafo for Zhvania

Swiel kicked to the left wing to start the second half. The visitors gathered and soon made their way into Quins’ territory. The hosts turned over the ball and Dickson box-kicked – Visser could not gather the ball in the air and so the French came again.

In a repeat performance; the ball was turned over, kicked into the French half, missed by Visser, claimed by The Pinks who, on this occasion were tackled into touch.

Line-out to Quins and they moved the ball from left to right and back again. A superb performance by Chisholm saw him break the defence, Marchant continued his run taking in more defenders. The French regrouped as play slowed. The hosts were doing a good job offloading to one another until it was a pass too far from Marchant, losing the ball to the French.

Despite their possession, the visitors could only kick to gain territory, handing play back to Quins until the hosts were penalised. Stade Francais kicked for a line-out as Camara was replaced by Millet after 46 minutes – the fall-back looking exhausted.

Stade Francais attempted to build momentum but Yarde was equal to it and intercepted, the ball then rolling forward off the French. Try-scorer Macalou was replaced by Alberts.

Scrum to Quins inside their own half. This time the strength in the set-piece failed as The Pinks were awarded a free-kick. The fly-half found touch inside the hosts’ 22 for an attacking line-out.

Hooker Burden received his orders and made his mark. Quins were penalised for straying offside and the visitors opted for a 5 metre scrum. Burden off for Bonfils.

Quins kept the tackles coming and a frantic loose pass landed at the feet of the French who were unable to gather. The hosts took the opportunity and kicked to chase. The ball was gathered but knocked-on by the visitors.

Pyle off for De Giovanni ahead of the scrum just inside Quins’ own half.

Dickson fed, received the ball and it was kicked long to safety. Stade Francais’ no. 13 Williams was waiting underneath and ran it back into the heart of the battle.

The French had regrouped over the break and were working together a little more. Quins were penalised and the French opted to tap and go, making their way up to the 5 metre line.

It was time for Harlequins to make replacements as Gray and Jackson came on in place of Buchanan and Swiel after 55 minutes.

The Pinks opted for a scrum and they earned another penalty. Another scrum was requested, possibly in the hopes of seeing a sin-bin as the hosts’ penalty tally was on the increase.

It was not to be as the scrum held, forcing their scrum-half Daguin to release the ball. It was gathered and passed wide only for Visser to intercept and run the length of the pitch to score under the posts. A simple conversion for Jackson was in fact charged down: Harlequins 36 – 7 Stade Francais Paris after 58 minutes.

Marler, in his first game back from injury, left the field of play for Owen Evans.

Quins gathered the restart ball and kicked long, making France use up more energy in coming forward.

A brief aerial battle ensued as both teams tried to gather their thoughts.

The visitors kept possession and slowly pushed forward before the hosts, running out of defenders on the left wing, allowed Daguin to slip through and score a try; converted: Harlequins 36 – 14 Stade Francais Paris after 61 minutes.

After only a couple of minutes respite, Marler found himself returning to the battlefield as Evans went off for a Head Injury Assessment. He was not to return for the rest of the game.

Luamanu also came on to the pitch in place of Wallace after 62 minutes.

Scrum to The Pinks in their own half; Quins were again penalised for failing to hit straight. The French took it quickly but Visser again intercepted. A charge forward and Roberts was penalised for holding on. The French kicked for a line-out but failed to find touch; Quins returned the ball and the French were forced back into their own half.

They attempted a chip through but Yarde was on hand to gather. A neatly placed kick forced the ball into touch just outside the French 22.

The visitors claimed line-out ball and box-kicked. This simply handed back possession to Quins who promptly lost the ball to Stade Francais.

In the heat of battle, Dickson lost his boot but was given time to place it back on as Stade Francais were awarded a penalty which they kicked for a line-out in Quins’ 22.

The French pushed on but the hosts’ defence was up to the task and earned a scrum.

The Pinks dominated in the scrum, earned a penalty, took it quickly and crossed for a try, converted: Harlequins 36 – 21 Stade Francais Paris with 10 minutes left.

Stanley entered the affray, coming on in place of Roberts.

The re-start ball was claimed by the French who box-kicked back into the Quins’ half.

The hosts seemed to be waning badly and were lucky to retain possession when the ball was kicked out from a ruck.

Jackson chipped through the defence but with no Quins chasing, it simply handed possession to the French.

Adam Jones came on for Collier – a huge cheer as he took to the field, testament to his efforts at the weekend.

The French won their line-out and ran into the Quins’ 22. The hosts earned a reprieve with a free-kick, duly placed into touch just inside their own half. Possession was stolen at the line-out and this was compounded when the visitors were awarded a scrum. This time the hosts’ scrum was dominate and earned their team a free-kick.

It found touch for a line-out in the opposition half. The ball was secured by Horwill and a maul formed. Dickson retrieved the ball and it reached Brown. He attempted to offload but the ball strolled forward handing the opposition another scrum.

Mulchrone on for Dickson with just 4 minutes remaining.

Again Quins dominated and forced The Pinks to remove the ball quickly. They passed to the wing where the hosts attempted another intercept. This time the ball was knocked on handing another scrum to the opponents,

Quins stole possession and Luamanu blasted through the defence. Another pass out wide saw Yarde cross for a try

The TMO was called into action and eventually the try was awarded. Jackson added the conversion with just 1 minute of the game left to play.

The hosts gathered the ball from the re-start and kicked it into touch ending proceedings.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 43 – 21 Stade Francais Paris

James Chisholm was named Man Of The Match in a game that saw Harlequins head to the top of the table in pool 5 with a maximum 5 points.

11,820 attendance.


posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 1:45 am  

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