Wednesday, 16th November 2016 @ 22:30
A first half blitz helped the Maori All Blacks to a 10-26 win over a young Harlequins side in a historic 150th anniversary match at The Stoop.
Tim Swiel opened the scoring for the home side but the New Zealanders struck back with four first half tries and a 3-26 lead at the break.
A Harlequins side, bereft of 26 players due to injury or unavailability, fought back well in the second spell and scored the only points of the half thanks to a converted Dan Murphy try, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 10-26.
Earlier in the evening 12,100 supporters had turned up to see Harlequins play the Maori All Blacks for the first time in over 90 years. The special occasion a major part of Harlequins’ 150th anniversary season celebrations.
The home side got off to a solid start in the encounter and were rewarded with three points after Tim Swiel comfortably knocked over a 45 metre penalty in the eighth minute.
With many senior players missing on international duty, or unavailable ahead of their crucial Aviva Premiership match against Leicester Tigers this Sunday, the young Quins were soon found wanting.
The clinical New Zealanders striking four times in quick succession to help them to 26 points in as many minutes.
The first two tries to impressive outside back James Lowe who scored a brace, his fourth and fifth scores of this three match Northern Tour.
With Shane Christie and Sean Wainui’s tries deflating the crowd it would require a big effort in the second half. Before then however the crowd were treated to a stunning performance by a traditional Maori cultural group.
The Maori All Blacks had chances in the second spell to extend their lead but some strong defence and a string of big scrums kept the home side in it.
In the 52nd minute they were finally rewarded as Dan Murphy scored from the base of a maul after a succession of penalties went Quins way.
Try as they might Harlequins couldn’t get a second try to bring them back into the encounter even though the second half provided some bright moments from both sides. Man of the Match Akira Ioane terrorising the Quins defence, but equally the bright sparks in the Harlequins backline testing their opposing numbers.
The Londoners would have one final crack at the line in the dying minutes but they would fall short as Referee Andrew Brace blew his whistle on proceedings. The final score 10-26 in favour of the Maori All Blacks as they bounced back from their loss away to Munster on Friday.
For Harlequins it can be counted as great experience for many of their youngsters as well as a once in a lifetime experience for the veteran players, Club and its supporters.
They now prepare for a short turn around before their match against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Sunday (kick-off 15:15).
While The Stoop prepares for another visit from a New Zealand side as the Red Roses face the New Zealand Black Fearns this Saturday 19th November (kick-off 12:00).