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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Harlequins edge out win over Bath at the Twickenham Stoop

It was to be a tense game at the Twickenham Stoop. Harlequins had slipped to 8th in the Premiership Table after a disastrous performance away at Leicester Tigers last week. Their opponents today for round nine were finalists in the 2014-15 season. Bath Rugby, having gone through a slump, had found new form under the guidance of Todd Blackadder and were second in the table.

Harlequins had not yet lost on home soil this season in competition and Bath Rugby were looking to end the impressive run.

The game got underway under an overcast sky yet the support was warm and vibrant for the two sides. Harlequins got the upper hand early on. They kicked for the corner having been awarded a penalty, won the line-out in the Bath 22 and passed the ball from one wing to the other with swift but stable hands allowing Visser to cross unhindered for a try within the opening 2 minutes.

Nick Evans, captain for the game, was unable to add the conversion in his 200th appearance for the hosts: Harlequins 5 – 0 Bath Rugby.

The visitors did not waste time in their comeback, working their way up to the Quins 22 before knocking on and handing a scrum to the hosts. From this they earned a penalty and Dickson acted quickly to make up ground. His effort came to nothing as a chip over landed safely in Bath’s hands, ending the attack.

Another scrum and penalty to Quins just over the halfway line and another mad charge by Dickson. The ball then kicked long for a chase, won on this occasion by Bath who protected the ruck and box-kicked to safety.

Visser caught the ball and cheers resonated around the Twickenham Stoop as he upped his pace. Unfortunately the hosts were penalised for side entry allowing Bath to return to the Harlequins’ 22.

Their fly-half Bowden attempted a dummy pass however Quins’ no. 3 Collier, earning his 100th appearance for the club today, was wise to it and placed a thumping tackle on the no.10.

Meanwhile Evans had to make way for Swiel in a blood replacement after 14 minutes.

In an unusual fault by Visser, the no. 11 misread the game – Bath sent the ball into touch on the full therefore taking play back into their 22. Unfortunately Visser failed to realise this and played quick ball from his own half. A couple of penalties later, hwever, and Quins made it back into opposition territory.

Both teams were giving away penalties allowing territory to be gained and lost.

A knock-on handed a scrum to Bath who were then awarded another penalty. They kicked long but failed to find touch allowing Quins to push back to the half-way line.

Swiel received the ball and kicked for territory but the ever-faithful Rokodoguni gathered for Bath and ran the length of the field, slipping past missed tackles. He offloaded to the Bowden who continued the forward momentum.

Eventually Harlequins backtracked and started to land tackles before a knock-on halted play. Indiscipline once again handed Bath a penalty in front of the posts and fall-back Homer added an easy 3 points: Harlequins 5 – 3 Bath Rugby after 20 minutes.

Heartache worsened for the hosts after learning captain and double centurion Nick Evans was not going to return to the field and his replacement was permanent.

Play continued and Bath were penalised for failing to throw straight in the line-out, handing Harlequins a scrum. The fans attempted to spur on their team as Dickson fed and Clifford gathered quickly. Visser and Alofa Alofa worked well together on the wing, backing each other up and ensuring offloads were possible when the other was tackled.

Quins earned a penalty and Swiel lined up a difficult kick. Unfortunately he pushed it just wide of the posts handing Bath a 22 drop-out.

Yarde made a superb run, breaking the defensive line and Quins quickly made it back into Bath’s 22.

The visitors regrouped but failed to release a tackled player and Swiel again lined up the posts. This time he was successful: Harlequins 8 – 3 Bath Rugby after 27 minutes.

The long-restart was gathered by Quins and a maul formed. Dickson had to box-kick out but, with no chase, possession went back to Bath who ran with the ball. They then placed a grubber kick along the right wing that rolled into touch. Harlequins needed to win this defensive set piece. 

As it happened Bath were penalised for foul play in the line-out and Quins kicked for touch just over the half-way line. They commanded the line-out well and Visser chipped over the defence. The Bath fall-back gathered but Visser bundled him into touch.

Another successful line-out for the hosts and a rolling maul gained further ground. The forwards went for a grab-and-drive approach before being awarded advantage. The wingers attempted to cross the whitewash but lost possession under tackle. Swiel again lined up the posts: Harlequins 11 – 3 Bath Rugby 34 after minutes.

The restart ball was gathered well by Quins who quickly kicked it back up the field. The opposition caught the high-ball well and made strides back into Quins’ half. The hosts had a high defensive line which meant they had to back-track quickly whenever it was breached. The danger signs were there for everyone to see and Bath’s Palma-Newport dropped over the try line. The fly-half converted and Bath had brought themselves to within a point of the hosts just before half time.

Luck changed for Harlequins as Bath kicked into touch on the full sending play into the opposition 22. Quins lost the line-out but then Bath knocked-on.

Dickson fed the scrum, it collapsed and advantage was being played as the scrum-half re-gathered the ball and acted quickly.

Yarde made another strong run but an attempted chip through and chase for the ball found it roll into the dead-zone. Play went back for the penalty and this time Swiel kicked for the corner to cheers from the crowd. It was a good effort with a line-out, maul, long passing, before the ball returned to Visser who on this occasion failed to cross the whitewash before being tackled.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 11 – 10 Bath Rugby

The second half got underway and the hosts earned a scrum after Bath knocked on. Quins retrieved the ball however the attempted kick that followed was blocked. Bath found touch and Quins secured the line-out ball. The opponents, however, earned a penalty and their fall-back lined up the posts to take the lead: Harlequins 11 – 13 Bath Rugby after 45 minutes.

The re-start ball was kicked long. Bath gathered before box-kicking out. Quins gathered and opted for a grubber kick along the wing. The chase was narrowly won by Bath who then protected the ball before finding touch on their 22. The referee this time penalised the hosts for failing to throw straight and so the scrum went the way of Bath. They kicked deep but the ball was gathered well by Morris who ran it back.

Swiel escaped two missed tackles and broke the defensive line. Merrick made further progress before being brought down. A few plays later and Quins were penalised for holding on. A slice, however, only just got Bath out of their 22 and after securing the line-out, they kicked too close to the touchline, Yarde ensuring the ball found touch.

Play resumed with a line-out to Quins deep in Bath’s territory however the fast momentum saw the hosts knock-on during frantic passing. Scrum to Bath in their own 22.

This was again upgraded to a penalty however Bath were still unable to get out of their half.

They claimed the line-out ball, formed a maul and earned another penalty. Indiscipline was getting the batter of the hosts in a repeat of last week’s game against Leicester Tigers.

Bath failed to find touch and Quins ran the ball back.

The visitors started their replacements with just over a quarter of the game left to play: Banahan came on in place of Clark.

It was time for Quins to shine in the scrum and they were awarded a penalty with Swiel going for the post from the half-way line.

He had the distance but again pulled it wide.

A double replacement followed for Bath with Dunn and Palma-Newport off for Batty and Lahiff.

The restart kick from Bath allowed Quins to come again.

Yarde, Chisholm and Lambert made an impact in the defensive line. Dickson saw space and chipped over, the ball rolling neatly into touch.

Bath secured the line-out, kicked to safety, but the high-ball was gathered well by Yarde.

A slow and steady approach saw a frantic finish as Chisholm offloaded to Yarde whilst being bundled into touch, allowing him to pass to Dickson who crossed for a try. Swiel added the conversion: Harlequins 18 – 13 Bath Rugby with a quarter of the game left to play.

Quins were once again back in the lead.

Bath won a controversial line-out but in the ensuing chaos which followed, Quins earned the put-in at the scrum on their own 22. They gathered the ball quickly and the fans saw more of Clifford than they had planned as he was brought down along with his shorts and undergarments. In typical rugby fashion, play resumed and he carried on running following the ruck, pulling up his shorts as he went.

The referee Dean Richards halted play to look at a replay, awarding a penalty against Chisholm (Yarde, meanwhile, needed physio assistance to stave off cramp).

Penalty again to Bath and this time their kick was well placed, deep into touch.

Bath secured the uncontested line-out and formed a rolling maul. They then opted to grab-and-drive towards the try line. The TMO (Television Match Official) was called into action. Try awarded to Bath’s Catt with 14 minutes left of the game. Conversion added with help of the posts and Bath had once again pulled in front: Harlequins 18 – 20 Bath Rugby.

Adam Jones joined the affray for the hosts as Collier exited the pitch.

Play again halted to check on a suspected no-arm tackle on Lambert. No further action was taken and a scrum was awarded to Quins however they would have preferred for play to continue as Lambert had recovered from the tackle, was back on his feet and charging for the line.

Bath stole possession in open play; both teams opted to kick for territory before the visitors gathered the ball and broke through the defence. They spilt the ball under tackle.

The visitors changed their scrum-half with less than 10 minutes to play. Will Homer came on for Allinson; Obano for Catt and Grant for Mercer.

Quins played dangerously, opting to run from deep. As it turns out it was the correct call as Bath were penalised for not rolling away. Swiel placed the kick into touch in the opposition half: surely a drop goal was now being considered.

The line-out was gathered well by Wallace and a maul formed, albeit short-lived. They opted to chip over as advantage had been awarded. Bath claimed possession and so play was brought back for a penalty shot between the posts to retake the lead.

Despite some yells from the stands as Swiel started his run-up, he placed the ball well and added 3 points: Harlequins 21 – 20 Bath Rugby.

The hosts made changes of their own with Ward on for Lambert and Mulchrone replacing scrum-half Dickson. Just 5 minutes remained.

A knock-on handed a scrum to Bath just outside the Quins’ 22.

The scrum was reset after Quins were deemed to have been infringing. A penalty here would see Bath retake the lead with less than 3 minutes remaining; Mulchrone yelling at the touch judge, blaming Bath for the spin.

Play was allowed to continue and Quins ripped possession from the arms of Bath, earning a penalty in the process.

Swiel kicked for touch taking play back into opposition territory.

Quins retained possession but were being pushed back. The forwards went for a grab-and-drive approach, running down the clock, but each drive saw them forced back and play was soon within kicking distance of a penalty for the visitors, if ever awarded.

With 23 seconds remaining, Swiel kicked away possession. Bath gathered and found touch just outside Quins’ 22. The hosts won the line-out and kicked into touch to end the game:

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 21 – 20 Bath Rugby

Jack Clifford, on his return to play following injury, was named Man Of The Match in front of a sell-out crowd; England coach Eddie Jones watching from the stands.

15 Aaron Morris, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Joe Marchant, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans ©, 9 Karl Dickson, 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Rob Buchanan, 3 Will Collier, 4 George Merrick, 5 Charlie Matthews, 6 James Chisholm, 7 Luke Wallace, 8 Jack Clifford

16 Dave Ward, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Stan South, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Charlie Walker

Bath Rugby
15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokodoguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Darren Allinson, 1 Nathan Catt, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 4 Matt Garvey ©, 5 Dave Attwood, 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Guy Mercer, 8 Zach Mercer

16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Paul Grant, 20 Levi Douglas, 21 Will Homer, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Matt Banahan
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 11:09 pm  

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