Match report: Bath Rugby 29-31 Harlequins

Saturday, 2nd March 2019 @ 18:30



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Nathan Earle scored in the corner with the last move of the match to give Quins a brilliant 29-31 win in a thrilling match that for long periods of the second half looked to have got away from them.

The victory consolidates the Club’s position in third place in the league and sets up a mouth-watering match against Gloucester Rugby at The Stoop next week.

An exhilarating first half started with a brilliant hanging kick from fly-half James Lang which Joe Marchant was able to win back and get Quins on the attack. From there it was all Harlequins for the next 10 minutes as the visitors went through the phases and went close with James Horwill and Matt Symons both going close. Eventually Harlequins were awarded another scrum on the Bath five-yard line and Co-captain Chris Robshaw piled over to give them the early deserved advantage.

Lang’s simple conversion made it 0-7 but just two minutes later Quins had doubled their lead. This time with Bath trying some running rugby in their own half, a knock-on fell to Alex Dombrandt, whose brilliant presence of mind saw him put a cheeky little kick through the middle for Marchant to collect and score under the posts for his ninth of the season – his best-ever Premiership tally.

From the re-start Quins were in the ascendancy again when Scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone suffered a head injury in a tackle and had to be removed from the fray. The delay in play seemed to have an impact on Quins who immediately gave the advantage away and let Bath get on the front foot.

A Rhys Priestland penalty after 15 minutes gave the hosts their first points of the afternoon and got them back into the game.

The next ten minutes belonged to Bath and their pressure was finally turned into significant points when a Freddie Burns break put Quins on the back foot in their own half. Burns' chip through was collected by Ross Chisholm but Bath centre Jamie Roberts was able to win the ball back on Quins’ 22 and the ball quickly found its way to Jonathan Joseph who went over in the corner.

Priestland was unable to convert so the score remained 8-14 but the momentum was back with Bath now and they got back to within three points when they won a penalty from a collapsed scrum in front of the posts 25 yards out. Priestland made no mistake and it was 11-14 with 30 minutes on the clock.

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Then came the try of the half, as Brown, who had already made a series of threatening breaks, found space in the middle of the park and then offloaded beautifully to Marchant on the left wing who had the try-line in his sights. But the Centre sensed Dombrandt on the charge inside him and released him to go over under the posts and put Quins back on the front foot.

Lang’s conversion made it 11-21 but Bath still had plenty to give in the half and when another penalty went the hosts’ way for another collapsed scrum, they took advantage with a kick to the corner and then, after multiple phases, prop Nathan Catt found his way over the line with the clock having gone red. Another surprising missed conversion from Priestland kept the score at 16-21 at half-time and with the match in the balance.

The hosts started the second half as they had finished the first and soon got within two points when Elia Elia was penalised for holding just 20 yards out and in front of the posts. Priestland easily converted and by now the home support were beginning to believe as the volume was turned up at The Rec.

Priestland then gave Bath the lead for the first time when, following another period of sustained Bath pressure, was given another penalty in front of the posts.

The arrival of Jack Clifford for Ben Glynn gave the visitors some impetus but it was Bath who looked like they had extended their lead further in the 55th minute when a lovely move in the backs saw a Tom Homer kick elude Earle and wing Ruaridh McConnochie looked to have touched down. But the TMO ruled that he had not grounded the ball. Five minutes later and Quins had another let-off when Priestland looked to be nearing the try line but was adjudged to have made a double movement.

Then, after 62 minutes, Harlequins looked certain to score another try of their own when the mercurial Dombrandt charged down a kick, ripped the ball back from the defending Joseph and found James Horwill with a sumptuous offload. Horwill, though, could not hold on to the ball and the chance went begging.

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Moments later Bath seemed to have paid Harlequins for that miss when a wonderfully taken line out saw McConnochie charge up the middle, finally clawed back by Brown only to find Ross Batty in support who went over the line. Another simple kick for Priestland made it 29-21 with only 15 minutes remaining. Quins, who had not scored a point in the second half, looked unlikely victors at this stage but, with Marcus Smith and Francis Saili on as Game Changers, had added impetus and creativity. With a Bonus Point in the offing, they were still looking for chances.

The bonus point came for Quins when they were given a line out on the halfway line following another massive clearance kick from Priestland. Quins won the lineout and then moved it brilliantly through the backs before Smith found Saili, on the left wing, who looked to find Brown inside him. The fullback was able to kick it through from Saili’s pass and Marchant collected the ball and, riding a tackle, managed to get over the line. His 13th try of the season in all competitions. Smith missed the conversion but Quins were not within three points.

The remaining ten minutes were a tense affair with some excellent Quins pressure on the Bath line but when Bath won a penalty in the last minute and cleared to the halfway line the match looked all but over. But from the resulting line out, Quins were able to turn the ball over again and attacked one final time.

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Relentless pressure finally told when Quins got the ball out wide right and, when Saili found Earle on the wing with five yards to reach the line, there was only going to be one outcome. Earle went over and the match was won.

After the win over Bath Rugby, Harlequins return to The Stoop on Sunday 10th March to play Gloucester Rugby (kick-off 13:00). You can get your tickets online or by calling the Ticket Office on 020 8410 6010

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Team line Ups

Gallagher Premiership

League Table 2018-19

Team PLD W D L F A TF TA TB LB PTS
22 17 0 5 630 438 89 51 14 4 86
22 16 0 6 644 440 77 44 10 4 78
22 13 1 8 587 515 75 60 10 4 68
22 11 0 11 590 521 73 62 8 4 56
22 10 0 12 544 528 63 56 7 9 56
22 10 2 10 481 480 52 54 6 6 56
22 11 2 9 462 504 52 62 3 4 55
22 10 0 12 483 552 56 62 7 4 51
22 9 1 12 503 580 55 74 6 7 51
22 9 0 13 491 557 56 66 6 4 46
22 7 0 15 478 632 47 81 5 8 41
22 6 0 16 395 541 43 66 1 6 31