Friday, 8th March 2019 @ 00:00
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Harlequins’ Gallagher Premiership winning streak came to a halt on a blustery Sunday afternoon at The Stoop as Gloucester scored four tries against them to get to within two points of Quins in the league.
Jason Woodward, Ruan Ackermann, Tom Marshall and Danny Cipriani all touched down to inflict a heavy home defeat on Paul Gustard’s side with Nathan Earle scoring a consolation try for Quins in the closing minutes.
Harlequins huffed and puffed but were unable to score a point in the first half for the first time this season as the visitors created two try-scoring chances and took them both with aplomb.
The first came after eight minutes when Woodward, who had been denied by a brilliant tackle by Mike Brown just moments earlier, found the ball again on the right wing. He charged again at the Quins back line and this time he was able to get past Brown and went over for a score just to the right of the posts. Despite a bright start by Quins they were 0-7 down when Billy Twelvetrees converted.
Just four minutes later and Gloucester were 0-14 up. Quins earned a lineout from the re-start but attacked with another high-kick which found Ollie Thorley deep in the Gloucester half. The winger set out on a rampaging run, eluding the Quins’ defence and powering into the hosts’ half. He was finally halted, but from the resulting ruck Gloucester Second row Franco Mostert found himself in space and was able to go again. When the ball emerged again it was the simplest of tries for Gloucester as Cipriani found Ackermann on the left wing who went over. An accomplished conversion from Twelvetrees made it 0-14.
The hosts reacted well and Alex Dombrandt soon made one of his trademark runs through the middle to set up a dangerous Quins attack. Good phases from Quins followed and Chris Robshaw looked to be in but was able to find Joe Marchant as he made his way to the line.
Two minutes later Quins created another opportunity from a lineout on the Gloucester 5-yard line but Fly-half James Lang spilled it from a promising position.
The wind was playing havoc with both sides kicking games but Gloucester were making fewer mistakes and looked to be creating a good scoring chance again in the 19th minute when Cipriani ran through again, produced a clever grubber which Ross Chisholm knocked on on the Quins’ five-yard line.
Harlequins defended admirably for the remainder of the half, though, and Gloucester were only able to add three more points before half-time after Quins were penalised for handling in the ruck following a dangerous break from Hooker James Hanson. Twelvetrees’ simple kick made it 0-17 after 36 minutes.
Alex Dombrandt had looked dangerous for Quins throughout the half and, but for a handling error in the 25th minute, might have given the hosts a way back in but the 0-17 half-time scoreline was a fair reflection of the way the first 40 had gone.
Gustard rang the changes for the second half, bringing on Marcus Smith for Lang and Joe Marler for Lewis Boyce but Gloucester were swiftly back into their rhythm and did not allow Harlequins back into the game.
Another couple of knock-ons from Dombrandt and Joe Marchant added to the frustration at The Stoop and then, when Marchant was sent to the sin bin in the 50th minute for a high tackle on Thorley, the danger signs were there again. From the resulting penalty Cipriani kicked for the five-yard line again and Gloucester made the extra man count from the lineout as Cipriani shipped the ball quickly to find Marshall on the right wing who made no mistake.
Then Cipriani had his moment – a deserved try from a scrum five yards from the Harlequins line in the 65th minute. The irrepressibly Willi Heinz did the hard work and found the space for the Gloucester Fly-half who ran in the simplest of scores. The match was, at this point, all but over with Gloucester leading 0-29.
Harlequins, with James Chisholm on for Dombrandt and putting in some strong charges of his own, finally got into the Gloucester 22 in the final 10 minutes, but could not find a way over until the 76th minute when Smith moved the ball quickly out to the right wing, Earle kicked through for Marchant who seemed to have got over himself, but his fumble allowed Earle to touch down himself. Smith converted impressively but by that stage the game was up and Harlequins will go again against Saracens at The London Stadium in two weeks time.