Friday, 6th October 2017 @ 19:45
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Harlequins scored five tries, with Marcus Smith adding 17 points with the boot, as they ran out 42-26 winners over Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership.
The home side flew out the blocks with tries to Tim Visser, Joe Marler and Joe Marchant helping them to a 27-7 lead at the break.
In the second spell Visser completed his brace to pick up the try bonus point before a spirited Sharks fightback closed the gap. But the Londoners dominated throughout and Marland Yarde’s late score sealed the emphatic 42-26 win.
Earlier, Harlequins arrived at The Stoop hurting from back-to-back defeats to Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints. With only one league loss at home against Sale Sharks in the last nine years however John Kingston knew his side had an opportunity to bounce back.
The match remained scoreless for the opening dozen minutes but it was an enthralling back and forth affair before Danny Care and Tim Visser produced a piece of magic to open the scores.
Quins had a ruck 22 metres out from the oppsotion line as the England scrum-half stood over the ball watching the Sharks’defence line up. Sensing some space in behind Care chipped the ball with the outside of his boot for the flying Visser to latch onto for the first of his two tries. Marcus Smith adding the extras with a dart from the sideline.
With just over a quarter of the match played they doubled, then tripled, their advantage. Firstly Joe Marler barged over from close range to score in his return from injury, quickly followed by a Joe Marchant charge down and score as Harlequins upped the pressure. The sensational Smith added to his tally by knocking over both kicks to make it 21-0.
Sale pulled one back after the half hour mark as fullback Mike Haley danced over for a stunning solo effort but Smith kicked two penalties to give his side a 20-point advantage as they headed to the sheds.
From the restart the visitors started to get themselves back into the encounter before Charlie Matthews, a late replacement for captain James Horwill, intercepted on halfway and led the charge downfield.
From the resulting phase Care and Visser combined again with a second chip behind the defence to score another brilliant try – this one helping Harlequins pick up their third bonus point of the season. Smith missed his only kick of the night but the Stoop faithful roared with approval as their side led 32-7.
Sale hit back with two tries either side of a third Smith penalty, the first to Halani Auilka followed by a Sam James intercept try, but down 35-19 with ten minutes to play the come back was never truly on.
When the captain Ross Harrison crashed over under the posts they would grab a try bonus point of their own but Quins had the final say as Marland Yarde capped off a marvellous performance as he dived over in spectacular fashion to make it 42-26 with just a minute left on the clock.
The match would finish on a slight damper with both Tim Swiel and Byron McGuigan shown yellow cards for foul play but the stunning perfomrance from their side left the 14,228 in attendance leaving ecstatic. A fantastic way to wrap up the first quarter of Aviva Premiership matches as the sides now head into their respective European competitions.
Harlequins return to The Stoop next Saturday 14thth October when they take on La Rochelle in Round 1 of the European Rugby Champions Cup, their first match in that tournament in three years. Tickets for the fixture are available now and can be purchased by clicking here.