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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Harlequins pull the plug on Bath's dreams

There was quite a buzz at the Twickenham Stoop this afternoon.

It was winner-takes-all. The reward - a top four finish in the Premiership and a place in the playoffs.

The rain came but blue skies and sunshine emerged just in time for kick-off at 3.15pm.

Harlequins versus Bath Rugby. These two teams so evenly matched.

Referee Wayne Barnes blew the whistle to signal the start of the game. Both sides desperate to get early points on the board and possession changed hands several times in the opening minutes, each trying to sound out the opposition.

Quins won an attacking line-out 10 metres from the Bath try-line. They sent the ball out to the far wing and back again, with Danny Care feeding Mike Brown with a long pass. Brown crossed for the first points of the game 7 minutes in, Nick Evans converting.

Momentum was with the home side but Bath's George Ford broke through the Quins defence following a scrum. He ran straight between the posts, converted his own try and levelled the score.

Nick Easter made his 232nd appearance for Harlequins today, equalling the club record. To celebrate, he crossed the try-line after the home side turned-over the ball. The Television Match Official, however, declared it was a forward pass from Care and the try was disallowed.

The final points of the half went to Harlequins. Evans slotted the penalty between the posts.

Half-Time: Harlequins 10 - 7 Bath Rugby

The rain came again as Bath kicked off the second half. Both teams were pushing hard and the visitors broke through the Quins' defence. The home side managed to halt Bath's advancement and rebuilt their defences. They did, however, give away a penalty and Bath opted for the sticks. Ford secured another three points for the visitors, bringing them level once again.

Following the restart, Quins won line-out ball and fancy passing allowed Dave Ward to make his mark on the game, breaking through the Bath defence.

Wayne Barnes had no hesitation showing Matt Banahan a yellow card for playing the ball whilst offside and for 10 minutes the visitors were down to 14 men.

In attacking play Harlequins kicked long for a race. Bath were the first to reach the ball but Brown was hot on their heels and tackled them on their own try-line. The visitors were penalised for holding on and Evans added the three points putting Quins back in the lead.

They extended this further after Sinckler chased the ball back towards the Bath try-line and pushed the visitor's no. 21 into touch. Stringer reacted to this challenge and Wayne Barnes awarded Quins a penalty.

Evans extended the lead 16 - 10.

Buchanan rejoined the field of play having served his sin-bin.

Harlequins were awarded another penalty after a high tackle on Brown. They kicked for a line-out. It was taken well and Chris Robshaw made good ground. Evans attempted a drop-goal after Barnes signalled he was playing advantage. The no.10 pulled it wide of the posts and, as it was deemed Quins had kicked away possession, play was handed to Bath.

The visitors then pulled another three points back through the boot of Ford after earning a penalty.

Just 14 minutes remained on the clock and only three points separated the two teams.

Quins attacked from the restart. Smith was blocked from reaching the ball and another penalty was awarded to the home side. Evans kicked straight and true. The lead doubled to 6 points.

There was still time for the game to go either way. Evans, so strong for Harlequins throughout the game, started to kick away possession at a time the home side needed to keep hold of the ball. He was substituted for Ben Botica.

Bath had possession. All they needed was a draw - three more points on the board would see them through. George Ford attempted to force the win. He went for a drop goal from distance but it was not to be.

Full-Time: Harlequins 19 - 16 Bath Rugby

Harlequins end the season in fourth place, earning a semi-final next week away to Saracens. This is the third consecutive year Quins have made it to the playoffs.

Radio Jackie's Natalie Osborne was at the Twickenham Stoop and she spoke with Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O'Shea after the game:



posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 10:22 pm  

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