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Saturday, 15 September 2018

Harlequins 32 - 37 Bath Rugby at the Twickenham Stoop

A warm September afternoon proved a welcoming backdrop to a fixture that proves time and again to be an entertaining encounter: Harlequins against Bath Rugby at the Twickenham Stoop.

The first scrummage of the game showed Bath to have a superior power but possession was cheaply kicked away. A game of high ball then ensued as neither team seemed willing to go for touch. Eventually the hosts decided to run with the ball, only to lose possession at the breakdown.

Quins were then penalised for not rolling away after tackling, allowing Bath to find touch inside the host’s territory. From that platform Bath grew with Stooke breaking through the defensive line. All this work wasted after being penalised for holding on.

It was the turn of the hosts to find touch and secure line-out ball, earning themselves a penalty in the process. Smith had the distance but not the accuracy to find touch.

After a collision in mid-air, another scrum was awarded to Bath. From here, the visitors passed ball with confident hands. A miss-tackle 10 metres from the Quins’ line allowed former Harlequin and Welsh International Jamie Roberts to cross the whitewash. Flyhalf Burns was unable to add the conversion, hitting the upright. Harlequins 0 – 5 Bath Rugby (13 minutes).

Despite the early disappointment, the voice of the home fans rang out loud around the Twickenham Stoop. Bath Rugby were then penalised for obstruction in their own 22, handing Quins an attacking platform. The visitors also had a blood substitution (no.18 Perenise on for 3 Thomas).

Home flyhalf Marcus Smith opened the scoring having successfully kicked a penalty: Harlequins 3 – Bath Rugby 5.

Within minutes of this score, Danny Care crossed the whitewash after juggling a ball passed with momentum from a fast-paced Tapuai. Smith added the conversion: Harlequins 10 – 5 Bath Rugby (17 minutes).

A moment of ill-discipline allowed Burns to line up the posts again but again he failed to add to the scoreboard.

The restart allowed Bath to attack once more but James Chisholm read the pass and intercepted. He ran half the pitch before sending a long pass out to the wing for Marchant to catch and cross for a try. On this occasion Smith pushed the ball wide of the posts. Harlequins 15 – 5 Bath Rugby (22 minutes).

Quins were playing with passion but Bath were playing with heart. The blood replacement was reversed for the visitors with Thomas returning to the pitch.

Bath looked to have kicked away possession, but Elia, backtracking quickly, could not gather neatly. 5 metre scrum to the visitors.

Playing advantage, the referee awarded the visitors another penalty that they kicked to the corner for a line-out. Bath gathered and rolled over the line, Zach Mercer successfully touching down despite the hosts’ efforts to hold-up the ball.

Burns added the conversion bringing the score to just a 3-point difference: Harlequins 15 – 12 Bath Rugby (26 minutes).

Positive play from the visitors; a good counter-ruck allowed them to claim possession and another penalty. They found touch within the Quins’ 22, deliberately throwing long and retaining the ball.

Another penalty by the hosts allowed Burns to line up the posts once more and this time he was successful, drawing the scores level: Harlequins 15 – 15 Bath Rugby (29 minutes).

The hosts powered into the visiting half but lost possession. Bath cleared their lines but a miss-kick from Morris handed the visitors a line-out on his own 22.

Visiting scrumhalf Green was penalised for holding on and Smith found touch on the half-way line. They immediately lost possession, missing their mark in the line-out.

Bath pushed on and Burns, sensing an opportunity, attempted a drop-goal and was successful. This pulled the visitors ahead once more: Harlequins 15 – 18 Bath Rugby (34 minutes).

Perenise returned to the pitch for Bath Rugby in another blood replacement.

The visitors immediately overpowered the scrum and released the ball, picking up pace. In a moment of pure acrobatics, Cokanasiga scored in the corner, Burns added the conversion: Harlequins 15 – 25 Bath Rugby (37 minutes).

The fans in the stands still cheered on the hosts despite an ever-increasing gap in the score-line. Bath Rugby were ruthless in the scum, making 10 metres without challenge before releasing the ball. Again they sprinted for the line but a desperate try-saving tackle into touch handed Quins a defensive line-out.

Care box-kicked out, this only allowing Bath to build again. The visitors kicked on for a chase but Morris was first back to touch down behind his own try-line, ending the first half.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 15 – 25 Bath Rugby

The second-half got underway with a front row change for Harlequins; Ward and Marler joining the action.

This seemed to steady the ship as the hosts earned a penalty in the scrum.

Despite pushing up the field, it was Cokanasiga who scored after the half-time break for Bath Rugby, earning the bonus point for 4-tries. Conversion missed: Harlequins 15 – 30 Bath Rugby (47 minutes).

Lasike was then brought on as a game-changer for Quins. Rokoduguni managed to slow down play legally in the ruck, challenging for the ball for Bath, but Danny Care came away with it for the hosts. Penalty successfully kicked by Marcus Smith, reducing the deficit: Harlequins 18 – 30 Bath Rugby (49 minutes).

In a surprise move, Marcus Smith was replaced for James Lang for Harlequins.

Bath Rugby continued to pressure the hosts and made it into the 22. They were awarded a penalty for a deliberate knock-on but no yellow card was shown.

Wallace and Care were removed from play for Bothma and Mulchrone.

The visitors pushed closer to the line but this time a penalty was awarded to the hosts. Priestland then came on in place of Burns for Bath Rugby.

Zach Mercer once again crossed the whitewash for Bath Rugby, earning his brace. Conversion added by Priestland: Harlequins 18 – 37 Bath Rugby (57 minutes).

In a perfect response, Quins immediately pushed up the field and earned a penalty line-out 10 metres from the try-line. Unfortunately, their advancement was halted in its’ tracks and a penalty awarded against them.

Swainston then replaced Collier for the hosts as Bath Rugby secured their line-out. They attempted a cross-field kick which came to nothing but the referee had been playing advantage; Bath then kicked for a line-out in the opposition half. The hosts were able to prevent a maul from forming and some hard tackles came in, preventing the visitors from gaining ground.

Quins stole possession but an attempted kick-chase was too far away for any home player to reach. Another wasted opportunity.

The visitors pushed to within metres of the try-line but a series of infringements allowed the hosts to return play to the opposition half.

Stan South then joined the play for Harlequins.

All their advantage was once again lost through ill-discipline and Bath Rugby were back just outside the hosts 22.

Quins, however, passed the ball quickly following a scrum. They progressed into the 22 but an attempted long pass was intercepted and a try scored much to the disagreement of the Harlequins fans who thought there was illegal blocking of the chasing Quins’ defenders.

The ‘boos’ rang out and fans started to leave, The fly-half, unable to take the kick due to the noise around the ground, was then put on hold as the referee went to the TMO (Television Match Official). Try was disallowed for obstruction.

Quins resumed play with a kick into touch and a line-out. They passed quickly with the voice of the fans in new spirits.

At the crucial point Quins lost possession just metres from the line. Bath cleared their lines but with the ball going straight into touch, play was brought back for another Quins’ attacking line-out.

Lasike broke through the defence but was tackled before he could reach the final metres. The offload was good and Joe Marler powered over to score the try; Lang took the conversion quickly: Harlequins 25 – 37 Bath rugby (76 minutes).

Bath then took their time kicking-off, winding down the clock as much as possible. Penalty to Quins just outside their own 22.

Lang found touch deep in opposition territory. Quins kept the line-out short and formed a maul. With the forwards caught up in the play, Lang released the ball. They put together play after play and kept support coming in fast during any breakdown.

The hosts tried different tactics – forwards grinding along; backs running at pace. It was powerful attack and defence along the try-line before Mulchrone touched down with just 6 seconds left of play. Lang added the conversion.

The restart was deep by Bath, knowing full well that Quins would have to keep ball in hand and run it from deep. The fans were on their feet; the noise deafening.

Momentum was soon lost, however, as bruised and battered bodies from both sides were collapsed on the field of play. The referee had to stop play to allow treatment.

During this period, there was a pitch invader, however focus was on the players.

Walker was brought on for Morris and Harlequins in the final play of the game.

Quins had the put-in at the scrum still inside their own half. They retrieved the ball quickly and went for the direct approach: the forwards putting their bodies on the line. This then allowed the wingers to find pace but at this change Bath overturned possession and kicked into touch to end the game.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 32 – 37 Bath Rugby

Attendance: 9,967

Photos: Chris Spring

posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 11:22 pm  

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