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Saturday, 26 January 2019

Harlequins 12 - 32 Saracens in the Premiership Rugby Cup at the Twickenham Stoop

A tough day at the office for Harlequins whose recent winning form came to an abrupt end at the hands of local rivals Saracens.

The home advantage at the Twickenham Stoop was wiped away after 28 minutes when Renaldo Bothma was shown a red card for a dangerous collision. Even with the return from injury of co-captains James Horwill and Chris Robshaw, the hosts were unable to prevent the visitors from securing a bonus-point win and a place in the semi-finals of the Premiership Rugby Cup.

For 50 minutes, Harlequins stayed in the match. They went into half-time one man and one point down, having opened the scoring with a converted try from Josh Ibuanokpe within the first 5-minutes of play.

An infringement from Dino Lamb just a couple of minutes later allowed Saracens an attacking platform, which the visitors took full advantage of. Sione Valianu crossed the whitewash. Although it remained unconverted, Saracens were very much in the fight and had succeeded in silencing the Twickenham Stoop fans, at least for the moment.

This game was set to be a classic derby match, and with referee Wayne Barnes at the helm, the game so early on was becoming a classic.

Despite some individual strong performances from Harlequins, Ibitoye was penalised for straying offside. To compound matters, when a knock-on handed possession back to the hosts, their set-piece which had been so strong over recent weeks, failed them.

Saracens could have opted to kick a penalty through the posts but instead went for the line-out. Although the visitors secured the ball, the Harlequins defence held firm and Robshaw, on his first game back from injury, insured Harlequins regained possession, his strength evident as he won the turnover.

This period of play was dominated by infringements. Both sides gained ground and lost ground as a result of a lack of discipline and simply failing to execute the basics correctly.

The deadlock was broken after Harlequins were penalised for not releasing the ball after being tackled. Saracens on this occasion decided not to go for a line-out in the corner, but instead Malins lined up the posts for a successful penalty kick, handing Saracens the lead after 19 minutes.

Despite some strong footwork from Walker, Chisholm and Ibitoye, the hosts nearly gave the visitors another try. In an attempt to force momentum, Harlequins opted for a long pass only to see the ball sail behind everyone with nobody left to catch it. Saracens were hot on the chase but fall-back Chisholm claimed the ball before Saracens could get a boot to it.

With the arrival of the 28th minute, Harlequins found themselves down to 14 men with Bothma sent off the pitch. Despite the one-man disadvantage, it was the hosts who finished the first half with momentum and were starting to overpower the visitors, who themselves were now starting to give away penalties.

Harlequins had the opportunity to regain the lead after Saracens’ Crossdale was penalised for a slap-down of a Quins’ long pass. Crossdale was not shown a card and the hosts’ fly-half, Lang, pulled the ball wide of the posts.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 7 – 8 Saracens

With a slender lead, Saracens got the second-half underway. The high ball was gathered well by Ibitoye.

Walker forced the hosts on further and, after being awarded a penalty, they kicked for a line-out 10 metres from the try-line. It was gathered and hooker Elia Elia crossed the white-wash. Lang once again failed to place his kick anywhere near the posts and so the extra two points went wanting.

Harlequins misjudged the projection of the re-start kick and knocked-on whilst at full stretch. Saracens scrum-half and captain Whiteley fed the ball and was told to use it by Barnes – Saracens hoping for a penalty as the scrum collapsed. They were forced to play but earned their desired penalty having reached the 22. Lozowski lined up the posts and brought the visitors to within 1 point.

A cheer resonated around The Stoop as Saracens, forced to gather a high ball, were then bundled into touch on landing.

At this point the teams started to bring on their ‘Game Changers’ or ‘replacements’; Saracens making the first switch.

Harlequins’ scrum-half Mulchrone took too long setting up a box-kick, allowing Saracens’ Kpoku to block the kick, gather the ball and scuttle over the try-line. Lozowski added the conversion.

Harlequins now changed their entire front row. Horwill, too, had done enough for his first game back after injury, and was replaced.

The hosts did continue to contest the game with Robshaw, issuing instructions throughout the game, achieving more turnovers. The fans in the stands continued to chant their support but errors were once again starting to creep back into the Harlequins’ game.

They got within 5 metres of the try-line but knocked-on allowing Saracens to clear their lines.

Still only one converted try behind the visitors, Harlequins were absorbing the pressure of only having 14-men. The last fifteen minutes of the game, however, sealed their fate.

Ibuanokpe, replaced only 15 minutes beforehand, was needed back on the pitch as injuries struck the Harlequins side.

Every time the hosts cleared their lines, Saracens ran the ball right back. Their fly-half Malins crossed the whitewash and Lozowski again converted.

Following this score, some of the Harlequins ‘support’ started to leave. Yet the players continued to perform, winning turnovers and free-kicks, dominating in the scrum.

In the final minute of the game, Manu Vunipola come on the pitch for Saracens - a bonus-point win would secure them a place in the semi-finals of the Premiership Rugby Cup.

A scrum to Saracens and Segun broke away, crossing for their fourth try underneath the posts. Once again it was converted.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 12 – 32 Saracens

Attendance: 12,586.

15 Ross Chisholm, 14, Charlie Walker, 13 Aaron Morris, 12 Ben Tapaui, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 James Lang, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Elia Elia, 3 Josh Ibuanokpe, 4 Dino Lamb, 5 James Horwill (c-c), 6 Chris Robshaw (c-c), 7 Luke Wallace, 8 Renaldo Bothma

Game Changers
16 Dave Ward, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Stan South, 20 Archie White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Paul Lasike

15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Ali Crossdale, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Dom Morris, 11 Rotimi Segun, 10 Max Malins, 9 Tom Whiteley ©, 1 Richard Barrington, 2 Tom Woolstencraft, 3 Titi Lamositele, 4 Dom Day, 5 Joel Kpoku, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 7 Sean Reffell, 8 Sione Vailanu

16 Joe Gray, 17 Ralph Adams-Hale, 18 Billy Walker, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Jackson Wary, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Tom Griffiths

Match report: Natalie Osborne Photographer: Chris Spring
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 11:22 pm  

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