Sunday, 19th November 2017 @ 17:20
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Harlequins put up a brave display in a 31-17 defeat to Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
The away side held a slender 14-17 lead at half-time thanks to tries from James Chisholm and Tim Visser and could have been ever further in front but the TMO ruled out James Horwill's effort for no clear grounding.
Jonny Hill scored twice for Chiefs in the second half to hand them a bonus point as Harlequins were once again denied by the TMO, this time James Lang was the one who had his score chalked off.
Earlier, Harlequins arrived in Devon minus the international contingent and in possession of a well-documented injury list. That list grew even further when Joe Marchant pulled out late and Jack Clifford was ruled out in the warm up; Harry Sloan and Ben Glynn both given the nod to start.
Chiefs, who haven't lost at home in the league in more than a year, got off to a blistering start when Phil Dollman broke through at pace and found a free Lachie Turner to race over for the match's first try just six minutes in.
Within five minutes the scores were level when James Chisholm - who was impressive for the visitors all match - barreled through following some smart Harlequins play from a penalty. The opening try for Quins was Chisholm's second in as many matches.
The injury problems grew further when Harry Sloan was forced off and Charlie Walker replaced him with Alofa Alofa moving into the midfield.
Soon after and the hosts were back in front. Dollman was again the instigator of the move as he darted down the left side of the pitch, offload outside to Olly Woodburn who slid over the line under the tackle of Ross Chisholm. Following Gareth Steenson's difficult conversion, Harlequins moved themselves back into the game.
In broken play, Marcus Smith - arguably the player of the match for Harlequins - sent the ball high and with no obvious chance on, he chased and outmuscled his opposite number to gather the ball and pop it outside to Tim Visser. Visser duly obliged and raced over.
With Smith adding the extras, Harlequins could have moved themselves further in front just moments later. With Smith leading the attack, the forwards decided to pick and go with Horwill looking to crash over the line. With referee JP Doyle going upstairs, TMO Stuart Terheege ruled it out for no obvious grounding, despite shouts of a high tackle from Woodburn.
Harlequins weren't to be denied their lead and Smith moved his side in front from a penalty shortly after; Quins held the lead at the half.
Into the second half, and it was the home side that got quickest out of the blocks. Chiefs spent an age in possession, shifting it from one side of the pitch to the other before Jonny Hill muscled his way over from metres out.
Chiefs ramped up the pressure but Harlequins were equal to it before Tim Visser broke away to set Harlequins up with another chance of getting over the line.
The TMO would once again deny a score when James Lang looked to have pounced on Marcus Smith's defence-splitting chipped ball. Doyle went upstairs and found that Visser had put a foot in touch a number of phases earlier and the score remained at 21-17.
As the match went on, Chiefs' pressure grew and they put the match beyond Harlequins on the 69th minute. From scrambled play, Chiefs gathered - despite the calls for obstruction - and once again got themselves over the line from Hill.
With the match entering its final phases, Harlequins looked to get themselves into losing bonus point territory, but they were to leave empty-handed when Steenson added a late penalty to move Chiefs out of sight.
Harlequins continue their stint on the road next week when they travel to Bath before returning to The Stoop on Sunday 3rd December to take on Saracens.