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Sunday, 24 February 2019

Back-to-back wins for Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop



A beautiful sunny day with blue skies greeted the fans of rugby at the Twickenham Stoop. Such was the unusually warm temperatures that ice-cream was bring eaten around the grounds.

Bristol Bears were the visitors and they were looking for their first win on the road this season in the Gallagher Premiership. The hosts Harlequins aiming to improve on their strong performance last week.

When these two teams last met back in September in the reverse fixture, Harlequins came off second-best with three yellow cards assisting in their defeat.

Round 14 got underway with both teams testing each other; 5 minutes into the match came the first scrum. Quins looked strong. Bristol were defending well but were penalised for not rolling away after tackle. Marcus Smith failed to make best use of this opportunity for the hosts and sliced the ball into touch; the line-out still outside the opposition 22.

Quins secured the ball and formed a maul but after movement stagnated, Bristol were able to gain the upper hand and earned a scrum.

The visitors passed quickly with ball in hand as Quins were penalised for straying off-side. Their fly-half Callum Sheedy slipped through the home defence and placed a superb grubber kick for a chase. The Bears were unable to score at first opportunity but sent the ball to the far wing where fall-back Charles Piutau crossed for a try in the 11th minute. The conversion was added: Harlequins 0 – 7 Bristol Bears.

The re-start ball was kicked long by Quins and gathered confidently by Bristol. The hosts, however, were quick on the defence and turned over the ball at the break-down; another kick through, this time from Joe Marchant, allowing Ross Chisholm to ground the ball to bring Quins back into the game. Marcus Smith’s conversion kick was not pretty but somehow the ball curved between the posts to level the scores: Harlequins 7 – 7 Bristol Bears (15 minutes).

It was turning into a fierce game where each time one side got a sprint going, they looked threatening. Bristol quickly made it back into the Harlequins’ 22. They again worked the try-line before scoring in the far corner (Alapati Leiua - 18 minutes). Unconverted. Harlequins 7 – 12 Bristol Bears.


Marcus Smith sent the re-start ball into the opposition 22. Gradually the Bears tested the defence before box-kicking. The high ball was challenged by both teams, Bristol coming away with the rewards. A miss-pass, however, was knocked-on handing a scrum to the hosts. Quins pushed up to the opposition 22 but lost possession to a turnover during the breakdown.

The hosts were determined to win it back and just a few phases later stole back the ball before Marcus Smith kicked for a chase to the line. Bristol gathered but ran straight into touch handing Quins an attacking 10-metre line-out. They secured the ball well and formed a maul before breaking away; Smith selling a dummy pass and crossing the whitewash (24 minutes). He converted his own try. Harlequins 14 – 12 Bristol Bears.

Play settled down after the visitors were penalised for straying offside. This time Smith gained distance on his kick and placed a line-out on the opposition 22. The hosts retained possession but Bristol were defending strongly.

Quick hands from Alex Dombrandt fed Elia Elia. He passed back to Ross Chisholm who was tackled short of the try-line. Despite this he maintained his composure and was able to offload to Mike Brown who jumped over the mass of bodies to score the try. It was unconverted. Harlequins 19 – 12 Bristol Bears (31 minutes).

Possession changed sides through forced box-kicks and hard-hitting tackles.
Quins turned over the ball at the breakdown, kicked the ball back but in another sloppy pass, Bristol fumbled the ball. Ben Glynn gathered the loose ball for the hosts but with tacklers in hot pursuit selflessly passed to Joe Marchant whose pace pulled him away from the chasing pack to finish off the try. Marcus Smith converted. Harlequins 26 – 12 Bristol Bears 35 minutes.

In a similar situation to last week’s game against Worcester Warrior, Harlequins had secured a try bonus point before half time.

A knock-on ended the first half.

Half-Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 26 – 12 Bristol Bears

‘Harlequins’ chants resonated around the Twickenham Stoop at the start of the second half. Bristol were putting in some strong defensive tackles; with a double tackle on Jack Clifford. He bore it well and the hosts continued to recycle the ball before a knock-on handed a scrum to Bristol just outside their own 22.

For the first time this game, the scrum required multiple re-sets. Bristol pushed on into Quins’ territory before the hosts were penalised, allowing the visitors to kick for another set-piece. The Bears retained possession and pushed to the 5-metre line before the referee Tom Foley awarded advantage and blew for a penalty.

Bristol took it quickly but the hosts were alert and defended well, turning over possession. Harlequins then box-kicked into touch to a round of applause from their fans who acknowledged the strong defensive effort.

James Lang and Lewis Boyce came on the pitch in place of Marcus Smith and Joe Marler (49 minutes).

The line-out once again went to the Bears who tested the defence severely. Quins were up to the task and won a scrum after their strong tackles and challenges at the breakdown caused Bristol to spill the ball forward. Quins box-kicked but failed to find touch.

There were turnovers from both sides as Quins pushed to the opposition 22 before losing the ball. Bristol, however, again knocked on through the continued aggression from the hosts.

Another unforced error from Bristol and another knock-on handed possession back to the hosts. At this point James Chisholm joined the play (55 minutes).

Quins recycled the ball quickly but were stripped under tackle. Bristol then kicked on and chased the ball before it strolled into touch for a Quins’ defensive line-out 10 metres from their own line. They gathered and formed a maul before the forwards put on a defensive effort allowing James Lang to box-kick to safety.

The Bears were again picking up the pace but penalised for a forward pass.

Dave Ward came on in place of Elia Elia (59 minutes).

Quins secured the scrum and kicked long downfield, choosing to pin Bristol in the opposition half of the pitch.

‘Come on you Quins’ sang out around the Twickenham Stoop as Bristol were forced to send the ball high. The hosts gathered before sending it back. This simply gave Bristol a free run at the ground at their fly-half Callum Sheedy ran half the field to score a try: Harlequins 26 – 19 Bristol Bears (61 minutes).

More game changers for Quins as Dave Lewis and George Merrick entered the contest.

Bristol Bears were penalised for obstruction. The hosts placed the ball in touch for another set-piece. Despite a strong challenge, Harlequins retained possession before being awarded another penalty. They pushed up to the 22; secured line-out ball and wasted an opportunity as a cross-field kick was gathered safely by the Bears who called the mark and sent play back into Quins’ territory.

Ben Tapuai off, Francis Saili on (66 minutes).

Another penalty was awarded to Quins and James Lang neatly split the posts, extending the lead: Harlequins 29 – 19 Bristol Bears.

A successful set-piece for the hosts saw them gather line-out ball and this time they sent it to the centres rather than force a maul. Progress was slow until James Chisholm got hold of the ball and dragged some tacklers along behind him. The ball was recycled to Nathan Earle who darted for the corner, scoring Quins’ 5th try of the game (76th minute). James Lang added the conversion: Harlequins 36 – 19 Bristol Bears.

Quins gathered the re-start ball well but handling issues handed a scrum to the visitors. With only 1 minute left on the clock, Bristol sensed a bonus-point try was achievable. A cheeky chip through the defence allowed Bristol to chase and Alapati Leiua achieved a brace and
secured the fourth try they so desperately needed. Converted.

Full-Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 36 – 26 Bristol Bears

Attendance: 13, 167

Harlequins

15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Ross Chisholm, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Elia Elia, 3 Will Collier, 4 Ben Glynn, 5 James Horwill (CC), 6 Jack Clifford, 7 Chris Robshaw (CC), 8 Alex Dombrandt

Game Changers

16 Dave Ward, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 George Merrick, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 James Lang, 23 Francis Saili

Bristol Bears

15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Daniels, 13 Piers O’Connor, 12 Siale Piutau (CC), 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 1 Jake Woolmore, 2 Sam Parry, 3 John Afoa, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Chris Vui, 6 Steven Luatua, 7 George Smith, 8 Jordan Crane (CC)

Replacements

16 Harry Thacker, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Nick Haining, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Mat Protheroe

Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales and Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher

posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 12:42 am  

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