Saturday, 10th December 2016 @ 15:00
A 25 minute try scoring blitz saw Harlequins score three tries either side of halftime to pick up a convincing 3-42 win over Timisoara Saracens in the European Rugby Challenge Cup
After a scoreless opening quarter Harlequins would trail following a Valentin Calafeteanu penalty that gave the Romanians a 3-0 lead.
The penalty would spark the visitors into action as a brace from Charlie Walker as well as tries to Dave Ward, George Merrick, Aaron Morris and Joe Marchant gave Harlequins a 3-42 ten minutes into the second spell.
The final half hour would remain scoreless but the Londoners had done enough as they head home with the bonus point win.
Earlier, Harlequins had arrived at Dan Platinisanu Stadium after a 1,200 mile trip from Twickenham to Timisoara.
The 32,972 capacity bowl was only fractionally full, though the Quins supporters were heard throughout the match. While the Romania’s provided free tickets for the encounter, the travelling support showed their gratitude by pooling together to help pay for the stadium hire.
In the early stages of the encounter Harlequins would have all the territory but their handling would let them down. Anytime they managed to get themselves into the Saracens 22, the Romanians forced an error and cleared their lines.
A scoreless opening quarter frustrated the visitors and they were lucky not to have conceded a try after flyhalf Jack Umaga sold a dummy near his own line and soared down field before Harlequins’ desperate defence turned it over.
Timisoara would still go ahead first, thanks to a Valentin Calafeteanu penalty in the 22nd minute.
The penalty provided the spark the Londoners needed and they began to add possession and composure to their territorial advantage. It paid off soon after as they scored three quick tries to run away with the encounter.
In the 25th minute Dave Ward would power over from a textbook rolling maul that gave Quins the 3-7 lead. Minutes later, George Merrick would cross for their second as he burst clean through from 20 metres out to go in under the posts.
In the 34th minute, steady build up play saw Aaron Morris wide open on the wing and the young fullback would cross for the third. Ruaridh Jackson a perfect 3/3 with the boot as they took a 3-21 lead into the break.
Only one minute into the second half Harlequins got were they were came for as Charlie Walker picked up a loose ball in his own half to scoot away untouched for the bonus point try.
Man of the Match Walker soon grabbed his brace. From a broken play he beat his man with a step, threw a brilliant offload before getting his pass back to score. The conversion making it 3-35.
Joe Marchant completed the try scoring barrage when he crossed for his side’s sixth over the 25 minute spell. Jackson remained perfect with the boot and the scoreboard read 3-42 with just 52 minutes played.
Both sides would continue to play expansive rugby for the remaining half an hour, but despite the offloads and half breaks neither team would trouble the scorers.
Harlequins hooker Rob Buchanan came on late to make his 100th appearance for the Club and while Timisoara would fight to the end, the Quins defence would keep them tryless. The final score 3-42 to Harlequins as they secured the bonus point win away from home.
Harlequins return to The Stoop next Saturday for the return leg against Timisoara Saracens on Saturday 17th December (kick-off 15:00). Tickets for the Christmas fixture are on sale now by clicking here – starting at just £1 for children.
In a unique scheduling twist Harlequins ‘A’ will also take on another member of the Saracens rugby family as they face Saracens Storm in the A League on Sunday 18th December (kick-off 14:30).
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