Sunday, 1st May 2016 @ 18:07
Harlequins are back in the Aviva Premiership top six after a nervy 25-32 bonus point win away to local rivals London Irish.
The visitors got off to the best possible start with three tries in an electric ten-minute spell that gave them a 3-19 lead with just a quarter of the match gone.
Irish would strike back with back-to-back tries, while Harlequins only managed a Ben Botica penalty for the remainder of the half, as they went into the break ahead 15-22.
The second half was a tense affair as Irish scrapped their way back into the encounter to take the lead 25-22, before Nick Evans levelled the scores.
With ten minutes to play Kyle Sinckler scored an electrifying match-winning try that gave Harlequins a 25-32 lead, and an equally important bonus point.
Earlier in the day Harlequins knew that a bonus point win would see them leapfrog Sale Sharks in the Aviva Premiership table after the Manchester-based side lost on Friday night.
While Harlequins were looking to move back to the European Rugby Champions Cup qualification spots, their neighbours were desperately trying to avoid relegation knowing a loss to their rivals would seal their fate.
The stakes involved led to a cagey opening spell before Charlie Walker was on the end of a Danny Care break, scoring in the corner to give his side a 0-7 lead after ten minutes.
Theo Brophy Clews would answer with a penalty but Walker soon went over for his brace. Ross Chisholm the provider with a nice grubber kick that Walker latched on to score.
Minutes later Chisholm would score one of his own finishing off a great team try that started deep in the Harlequins half. Botica’s conversion giving them a 3-19 lead.
The Exiles worked their way back into the match thanks to an effective set piece and rolling maul. Jack Clifford was shown a yellow card for repeated infringments and Luke Narraway and Aseli Tikoirotuma would both go over as the lead was quickly cut to 15-19.
Ben Botica kicked a penalty on the stroke of half time and Quins' lead was just 15-22.
In the second half Irish would score first after hooker David Paice barged over from the back of another rolling maul. Suddenly the scores were level and panic was beginning to creep in.
Mistakes would cost both sides opportunities and the fly-halves would swap penalties as the match was tied at 25-25 with just ten minutes to play.
Sinckler, on as a replacement, would then produce a piece of magic that will long be remembered by the travelling supporters.
A number of phases snuck Harlequins into the Irish half and the tight head prop was given the ball just behind the 40m line. He would run clean through the first defender, bump off a second, before having the pace to go all the way and score by the posts.
Nick Evans kicked the extras and Harlequins led 25-32 with the bonus point secured.
There was a few nervy moments to close the match but the Quins defence held on, thanks in large part to a combined Marland Yarde and Ross Chisholm try saving tackle as well as a solid scrum that would win key penalties.
With the final round of Aviva Premiership rugby next weekend, Harlequins know that the top six is in their own hands as they await a visit from Exeter Chiefs. Just one point separates the Londoners from Sale Sharks but they have points difference on their side as well.
It was a nervy encounter but they got what they came for and Champions Cup qualification is now just 80 minutes away.