Friday, 5th April 2019 @ 00:00
Kick off 15:00
Kick off 19:45
Kick off 20:15
Kick off 15:00
Kick off 13:00
Mike Brown broke the all-time Club record for tries scored in the professional era but Harlequins suffered a cruel reverse at the AJ Bell Stadium against Sale on Friday night.
Quins outscored their opponents by two tries to one but inaccuracy in attack and ill-discipline cost them dearly as they conceded 14 penalties, allowing AJ MacGinty to kick the hosts to victory.
Brown’s record-breaking try came after only four minutes when Chris Robshaw made a brilliant turnover in Harlequins’ half and Danny Care set out on a sharp run through the middle. The scrum-half found Brown who then offloaded to Nathan Earle who nearly made it over on the right wing. He was denied, but moments later Quins were able to re-cycle the ball and Care found Brown again five yards out to give Harlequins the lead and the Full-back his 80th try for the Club, overtaking Ugo Monye in the process. Catrakilis made the conversion look easy and Quins had the lead they deserved after having all the play in the early stages.
The visitors looked to have extended their lead just three minutes later when Alex Dombrandt, back in the starting line-up after a rest week, went rampaging through the middle, offloaded to Care who seemed to have enough to get over the line. But a sensational last-ditch tackle from Faf De Klerk denied him on the line. Referee Wayne Barnes had to go up to the TMO to be sure but Quins were denied.
Sale started to grow into the game after 10 minutes, though, and after a period of pressure inside the Quins’ half, won a penalty just outside the 22 and in front of the posts. AJ MacGinty made no mistake and the hosts were on the board. Quins conceded another penalty from a scrum in almost an identical position five minutes later and Sale were within a point after 20 minutes despite having very little of the ball.
Five minutes later Dombrandt appeared to have been set free to score a certain try when he intercepted on Harlequins’ 22 but he was adjudged to be offside and, rather than extending Quins’ lead, Sale were offered another simple kick for MacGinty to convert in front of the posts to take the lead themselves.
Quins continued to threaten with ball in hand, though, and scored another deserved try to take charge again after 28 minutes. This time Ben Tapuai broke the line, Quins re-cycled and Matt Symons went on another charge. The ball came back to the Magic Man Danny Care again and, not for the first time this season, he delivered another beautiful chip kick to find Jack Clifford yards from the line on the right wing. Clifford collected and found his way over to score, much to the displeasure of the home support who thought they had spotted an earlier obstruction. Catrakilis ignored the boos from the home support to convert again to make it 9-14.
Sale stayed in touch thanks to another penalty conceded by Quins just outside the 22 with four minutes remaining of the half and then, just as the visitors were threatening to run at them again with the clock showing 40 minutes Byron McGuigan intercepted an ambitious Catrakilis pass in his own half and sprinted unopposed to score under the posts to allow Sale to lead 19-14 at the break.
Sale then extended their lead when Quins were penalised for a high tackle on McGuigan who had made another dangerous break down the left. MacGinty’s solid game continued and the Sale lead grew to 22-14 after 42 minutes.
Harlequins continued to enjoy much of the possession but could not find a way through for the next 10 minutes until another Care grubber through for Brown forced a five-yard scrum. Sale were penalised at this scrum and Marcus Smith, on as a Game Changer for Catrakilis, scored with his first touch of the game. Quins were back in touching distance at 22-17 with over 20 minutes remaining but lost Kyle Sinckler to the sin bin after 59 minutes for an off-the-ball incident.
Quins rallied well without the prop, however, and another delightful Care kick almost put Alofa Alofa through this time – but again Quins were denied and handed a five-yard scrum.
The visitors continued to attack in phases and Cadan Murley went close in the 62nd minute only to knock on at a crucial moment five yards from the line. Sale won another penalty from the resulting scrum and the danger was over.
Sale made forays into Quins’ half in the last 10 minutes and, when the visitors were penalised for offside after 70 minutes, MacGinty was able to extend the lead to eight points. Then came a high tackle from Matt Symons which saw him sent to the bin and gave Sale yet another penalty – and easy one for MacGinty to close out the match by making it 28-17. A frustrating result for the travelling support who had seen their side dominate but fail to convert their superiority on the night.