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Sunday, 4 March 2018

Harlequins break losing streak with victory over Bath Rugby

There was a reduced number in the stands at the Twickenham Stoop this afternoon due to the rescheduled game from the freezing Friday conditions. Hosts Harlequins welcomed Bath Rugby in round 17 of the Premiership.

Heading into this weekend, Harlequins sat in 9th place on 32 points; their opponents in 5th on 45, pushing for a top-4 spot and a play-off place.

Both teams were applauded onto the pitch at the same time as a minute’s silence was held in memory of Sebastian Adeniran-Olule, a young prop forward who passed away in 2016.

The Harlequins Director of Rugby John Kingston had asked fans to make their voices heard and leave their frustration of the recent run of form at the entrance gates.

The fans answered the call to arms and were vocal from the off. With that, Quins forced their way into the opposition half before losing possession.

A line-out was awarded to Bath who secured the ball and quickly crossed the half-way line. The hosts, however, were determined not to allow the visitors to run riot and pinned them down.

An attempted chip-over was blocked by Quins and the ball went into touch for another Bath line-out, again keeping play in opposition territory.

There were early injury concerns for Quins as Mark Lambert required treatment from the physiotherapists on the pitch less than 5 minutes into the game. In true rugby style, he was able to continue.

The hosts were fired up and almost pulled off an interception. A penalty was, however, awarded to the visitors who kicked long to find touch inside the Quins’ 22.

The visitors secured line-out ball, formed a maul but pressure from the home team forced a knock-on, handing a scrum to the hosts. The ball was fed and hooked quickly; scrum-half Dave Lewis box-kicking to clear his lines.

Bath gathered and fed it to the wing. Again, the defence was strong forcing the visitors to attempt another chip through. This time Joe Marchant gathered and made progress forward.

The hosts ran it from one wing to the next and themselves attempted a cross-field kick. This was gathered by the visitors who opted to run with ball in hand. This earned them a penalty (entering from the side) and they went for a line-out deep inside the Quins’ 22.

Bath again secured line-out ball but play was slow allowing Harlequins to predict the next move. In a desperate attempt to make progress, the visitors threw a long pass to the far wing; it was almost intercepted.

Good defensive pressure continued from the hosts and Quins were able to steal possession and kick long, keeping ball in play and allowing a foot race.

Baths’ Aled Brew gathered the ball but sliced his kick. Unfortunately, in an attempt to keep the ball in play, Tim Visser stumbled into touch whilst gathering, handing the line-out back to Bath.

Play entered the host’s half of the field and a scrum was awarded to the visitors.

The visiting no. 8 Taulupe Faletau passed to scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i who slipped through the defence, before offloading to Matt Banahan who crossed for a try in the 16th minute. That silenced the stadium, eerily so. Conversion was missed, revitalising the Harlequins fans: Harlequins 0 – 5 Bath.

The restart high-ball was gathered well just outside the Bath 22 and they box-kicked to clear their lines. Tim Visser slipped through the defence, crossing the half-way line.

The ball was sent to the far wing where the hosts were awarded a free kick (Bath putting the boot in the ruck), which Demetri Catrakilis placed deep in the 22.

Bath turned over possession in the line-out and box-kicked to safety. Quins had the line-out still within opposition territory but the ball was thrown too long. Despite juggling, Quins could not secure it and Bath again made progress.

They sent the ball high and this time it was gathered by the hosts. The team, however, seemed unable to keep possession, and handed a scrum to the visitors.

The scrum collapsed and Bath were awarded the penalty. Again they kicked for touch inside the 22.

The line-out went unchallenged as Harlequins decided to attack the ensuing maul instead.

‘Harlequins’ resonated around the stadium and it erupted as Visser intercepted an attacking Bath pass and ran the length of the pitch to score under the posts. Catrakilis added the extra two points: Harlequins 7 - 5 Bath after 25 minutes.

The hosts, revitalised, gathered the restart high ball, formed a maul and pushed to 5 metres inside the half-way line. Mat Luamanu knocked-on under tackle and a scrum was awarded to Bath. This time it was Quins who prevailed in the set-piece and earned themselves a penalty.

Catrakilis found touch deep inside opposition territory. The hosts secured line-out ball but Bath were penalised for failing to roll away after tackling.

The host fly-half opted for the posts and successfully added another three points to the tally: Harlequins 10 – 5 Bath Rugby after 30 minutes.

Harlequins again secured the high ball and James Chisholm broke the defence. The ball was then sent from one wing to the other before being kicked on. Bath repaid the compliment, allowing the hosts to build up pace again.

Luke Wallace broke through, offloading to Joe Marchant. The hosts kept the ball alive and Alofa Alofa danced his way through before being tackled by the visiting Faletau.

Lambert was then penalised for going off his feet and Bath kicked for touch. They secured line-out ball but a forward pass handed a scrum to Quins just inside the opposition half.

‘Come on you Quins’ resonated around the Twickenham Stoop as the scrum was reset.

Lewis passed to Catrakilis who in turn offloaded to Visser, himself freeing full-back James Lang who was brought down. He continued to roll on the ground until support arrived.

Jamie Roberts broke through the game line and Bath were penalised for not releasing. Catrakilis again lined up the posts. He pulled it wide, unable to extend the home side lead.

Lang gathered the restart ball and progressed to the half-way line. Bath stole possession. Again unable to beat the defence, they opted to kick for distance. At this point, play was brought back to the far wing as a penalty was awarded against Roberts.

Bath found touch on the Quins’ 22 but lost possession in the line-out. No sooner had the hosts stolen the ball than they lost it again. Bath progressed up the field then spilled the ball. The hosts, having regained the advantage, opted to kick away possession but clear their lines. The visitors ran the ball back but illegally entered the ruck.

Penalty to Quins who kicked for touch, secured line-out ball, formed a maul and drove on up the field. Quick work between Lambert and Chisholm gained additional ground.

The fans again started singing in the stands as the hosts had a desire to prove a point this week. The ball was, however, spilled by Alofa Alofa signalling the end of the first half.

Harlequins players were applauded and cheered as they entered the tunnel after the first 40 minutes.

Half-Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 10 – 5 Bath Rugby

As the grey skies continued to roll over the Twickenham Stoop, Harlequins fans remained in a buoyant mood and cheered loudly.

Catrakilis kicked off the second 40 minutes. Bath gathered and box-kicked, failing to find touch, but gathering the ball after winning the challenge in the air.

Alofa ALofa and Luamanu successfully carried out a double tackle but this left the No.8 down and injured. Bath exploited this gap in defence and powered through, Alofa Alofa doing his best to slow down play.

The ball was then sent to the far wing where play was halted following injury to Horwill. Luamanu by this point was back on his feet and Horwill, too, stayed on the field of play.

Bath continued in possession and pushed up to the line, but Horwill stole turnover ball. The visitors were then penalised for being offside. Catrakilis kicked for touch albeit still inside his own half. They secured line-out ball and box-kicked out. This allowed Bath to come again.

Alofa Alofa was defending strongly on the near wing. Bath made progress but at a slow pace; Harlequins standing firm. The hosts then stole possession and Luamanu broke through the defence. A loose pass by Roberts, however, ended their run as the referee signalled a knock-on by Lang.

Scrum to Bath inside Harlequins’ territory. At this point the replacements started to be made: Ben Glynn off, Charlie Matthews on for the hosts (48 minutes).

The fans again raised their voices in song as the scrum was once again reset and referee JP Doyle blew for a penalty to the hosts.

Catrakilis found touch in the opposition half. The line-out ball was secured and another penalty was awarded against Bath for being offside.

The host fly-half again kicked up the field finding touch in the 22. This time Bath challenged the line-out and stole possession. They found touch still inside their own half. Charlie Matthews, always a strong presence in the set piece, secured the ball for the hosts. It was then passed to the centres before being chipped over with Quins chasing but failing to re-gather.

The referee had been playing advantage as Matthews was tackled whilst still in the air, and Quins kicked for touch. They secured line-out ball and earned another penalty (not releasing in the tackle).

Little progress was made as Bath again infringed at the line; Max Lahiff, who had just come onto the field for the visitors, was then sin-binned with 26 minutes to go.

Kyle Sinckler replaced Will Collier as Quins again kicked for touch. They secured the ball, formed a maul and drove for the line.

The maul collapsed just short of the whitewash and so play was released to the centres.

In front of the posts, Harlequins opted to grab and drive; Sinckler rewarded with the try. Catrakilis added the conversion: Harlequins 17 – 5 Bath Rugby with 24 minutes remaining.

The long restart was taken well by Alofa Alofa with Luamanu adding an extra obstacle for the chasing Bath. They kicked on and retained possession before attempting this a second time and handing play to Bath. They sent the ball back; Quins returned the favour and just found touch.

Bath took a quick line-out and forced play back into the host territory. They then opted to chip through with Marchant gathering under pressure.

Harlequins kicked into touch handing Bath the line-out. In a rare set-piece error, the visitors failed to find their target. Quins’ Hooker Joe Gray stole the over-throw and made progress towards the half-way line.

Both teams then opted to kick for territory, Bath eventually finding touch.

More replacements for Harlequins with Marcus Smith and Francis Saili joining play in place of Demetri Catrakilis and Jamie Roberts, 18 minutes remaining.

The visitors made strides up the field but the hosts stole possession following a strong tackle. Again, they found touch just inside their own half.

Bath regained possession and were awarded advantage. With little progress gained, play was brought back for the penalty (coming in from the side). Bath found touch inside the 22.

Tim Visser left the field, being replaced by Calum Waters in the final 10 minutes of the game for Quins.

Bath secured possession and sent the ball to the far wing. It then came back to the centre as their no. 8 Faletau lost his boot. Quins stole possession and kicked to clear their lines, handing a line-out to Bath deep inside their own half.

Bath pushed on, their fly-half James Wilson breaking through the defence. The ball was offloaded quickly and passed to replacement Cooper Vuna who was brought down before the try line and then penalised for holding on.

Quins kicked for touch but were penalised themselves, handing a scrum to the visitors.

Still the fans chanted loudly. A free-kick was awarded to Harlequins (Bath penalised for engaging early) who took it quickly and progressed up the field before a loose pass sent Saili scurrying back to retrieve the ball.

Penalty to Bath and they found touch inside the 22. They secured line-out ball and Zach Mercer found his way to the line. He was deemed to have been held up.

A 5-metre scrum was awarded to Bath as the home fans continued to sing loud and proud.

Bath passed to the centre and the referee penalised Harlequins for failing to release the tackled player. The visitors opted for a scrum as the noise in the stands was deafening.

A double tackle was made on Faletau however he was able to offload to Mercer who was also brought down. The visitors opted to grab and drive right under the posts and play was again halted for a Television Match Official decision. Again, ‘no try’ was given much to the delight of the home fans.

‘Harlequins’ resonated around the Twickenham Stoop as the two sides prepared themselves for another 5-metre scrum.

Faletau peeled off the back with the ball but was brought down. The scrum-half Chris Cook released the wings and Harlequins stole possession. They drove up the field a few metres before box-kicking, Calum Waters finding touch. Bath took the line-out quickly but then knocked on.

Dave Ward and Archie White replaced Mat Luamanu and Joe Gray for Quins with 5 minutes remaining.

Again, the dominance in the scrum shone through as Harlequins were awarded a penalty. Marcus Smith found touch in the opposition half. Captain Horwill secured the ball and a maul was formed. Dave Ward broke through the defence before being brought down.

Play went to the far wing and Bath were penalised for strolling offside.

Smith opted for the posts and secured three points: Harlequins 20 – 5 Bath Rugby.

The restart was gathered well by Matthews who was then penalised for holding on. Bath kicked for a line-out inside the 22. They secured the ball and passed quickly, attacking the centre before passing out to the wing.

Smith intercepted but did not have the pace to reach the try line. Bath’s Mercer chased him down and tackled him into touch just metres before the line.

Lambert was replaced for Quins as the clock counted down. Harlequins stole line-out ball but lost possession. Bath failed to find touch despite the second 40 minutes of play coming to an end and Quins attacked once again. Pinned down, Harlequins secured the ball from the ruck and decided to kick it out to end play.

Full-Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 20 – 5 Bath Rugby

Attendance: 7625


15 James Lang, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Dave Lewis, 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Joe Gray, 3 Will Collier, 4 Ben Glynn, 5 James Horwill ©, 6 James Chisholm, 7 Luke Wallace, 8 Mat Luamanu

16 Dave Ward, 17 Cameron Holenstein, 18 Kyle Sinckler 19, Charlie Matthews, 20 Archie White, 21 Calum Waters, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Francis Saili

Bath Rugby

15 Tom Homer, 14 Matt Banahan, 13, Will Hurrell, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 James Wilson, 9 Kahn Fotuali’I, 1 Beno Obano, 2 Ross Batty, 3 Henry Thomas, 4 Elliott Stooke, 5 Luke Charteris ©, 6 Zach Mercer, 7 Josh Bayliss, 8 Taulupe Faletau


16 Nathan Charles, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Carlie Ewels, 20 James Phillips, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Cooper Vuna

Match Report: Natalie Osborne Photography: Chris Spring
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 11:42 pm  

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