Saturday, 10th May 2014 @ 20:07
Harlequins booked their place in the Aviva Premiership's semi-finals for the third consecutive year after a 19-16 victory at The Stoop. The quartered men will play London rivals and top seeds Saracens at Allianz Park as Harlequins’ quest for a fourth piece of silverware in as many years continues.
The 14,800 sell-out crowd played their part once again as Maurie Fa’asavalu, Sam Smith, and Tom Guest played at The Twickenham Stoop for the final time.
Nick Evans had a personal points haul of 14 points from four penalties and a conversion following a Mike Brown try, while George Ford provided all the points for his side.
It was an arm wrestle of a fixture as it took almost 20 minutes before the deadlock was broken.
Both sides had looked dangerous in attack early on, but Bath butchered a simple two on one when Ford broke the line in the first ten minutes. With Jonathan Joseph on his side, the fly-half grubbered the ball straight into Brown’s hands; much to the relieve of the home support.
Harlequins threatened early on too and after working into the 22, Care provided an inch perfect 20 metre pass to find Brown on the left wing to open the scores.
Harlequins were caught napping soon after and Ford exploited Harlequins who until that point had been immensely physical in both attack and defence.
Bath’s Leroy Houston broke from the back of a scrum after the forward pack had cleverly wheeled the Harlequins forwards away from play. Offloading to Carl Fearns, Bath found themselves outside the Harlequins 22. Ford showed great vision to dance around the defence and score under the posts, before levelling the scores with his conversion.
Harlequins were able to take the lead before half time with an Evans penalty, though they could have gone in further ahead had it not been for a disallowed Nick Easter try after a forward pass from Danny Care.
Bath were first on the scores in the second half with a Ford penalty. Marler slipped in defence which allowed Nick Abendanon to slice through a gap. The full-back was hauled down just shy of the line, but the hosts conceded the penalty at the breakdown.
Mat Banahan was then sent to the sin-bin for illegally playing the ball following a break from Dave Ward in the loose.
It was Ward who again helped Harlequins secure their next set of points with half an hour to go following a trademark turnover. Working up field, Harlequins won another penalty which provided Care the platform for a quick tap penalty. The Bath defence failed to retreat the required ten metres so when the attack broke down, Evans added a further three.
Anthony Watson made a dangerous break into the Harlequins half, before Kyle Sinckler sprinted down the right touchline chasing a Care box kick.
The pressure he put on Peter Stringer at first won his side a lineout, but the Bath backs reacted and the decision was promoted to a penalty for Evans to convert.
Ford was able to cancel it out with a penalty and this began a three minute period with as many penalty conversions.
Dave Attwood blocked Sam Smith’s charge from a Harlequins restart before Jordan Turner-Hall obstructed the Bath defence at the next. This brought the scores to 19-16, which is how it would end, but it would not be settled without more drama.
Cleverly keeping Bath deep in their own half, George Ford had the opportunity to level the scores and in doing so secure Bath’s place in the season’s shootout, but his drop goal went wide and The Stoop erupted with noise.