Saturday, 20th October 2018 @ 22:30
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Harlequins were denied back to back wins in the Pool stages of the 2018/19 European Rugby Challenge Cup after going down 19-13 to Grenoble
Leading 9-13 with quarter of an hour left to play, a breakaway Lolagi Visinia try and penalty from Burton Francis ensured victory for the hosts.
Quins - who were left ruing earlier chances - rallied hard in the closing moments but there was too much left to do and Grenoble bounced back from their opening round defeat to Benetton.
Marcus Smith - who scored the match’s opening try - contributed all 13 of Harlequins’ points
In a frustrating outing for the away side, Grenoble broke the deadlock in just the third minute when Corentin Glenat hit the first of his three first half penalties.
Moments later - and with the hosts looking to play out of their own half - fly-half Smith was on hand to telegraph and pick off Theo Nanette’s loose pass to gather and run under the posts. Smith converted his own try.
The try kickstarted Grenoble and after applying a long spell of pressure, Glenat sent over his second penalty of the day.
With the travelling Quins support making great noise, the away side went in search of try number two. Superb strength from Joe Marchant brought play deep inside Grenoble’s 22 but phases later the ball spilt forward and the away side were left ruing their chance.
From there, the half went from one end to the other before Harlequins were whistled again at the breakdown and Glenat scored his third penalty of the day on the half hour mark and the hosts were back in front.
Matt Symons continued to impress with a number of turnovers at the line out and in open play. In the final passages of play in the opening half Grenoble upped the pressure and were unlucky to not end the half five points in front after Glenat’s penalty attempt was unsuccessful. At the break the scoreboard read 9-7 in the hosts’ favour.
With the returning Jack Clifford one of two half-time changes - the other being Elia Elia - Quins regained the lead with two quickfire Smith penalties, including one from 40 metres out.
The four point lead was established, and Quins - captained by the hugely impressive James Chisholm - continued to pile on the pressure in open play and through the forwards. Clifford was inches away from scoring after a fabulous break but the hosts could clear their lines and set off on a counter attack of their own.
From there, Grenoble’s comeback began. After a mixup in the midfield between Demetri Catrakilis and Francis Saili, Visinia gathered the loose ball at pace and raced away to score despite the efforts of Aaron Morris. Francis adding the conversion.
In the blink of an eye Quins were six points down when replacement Francis added an impressive penalty tight to the right touch line.
Quins’ late rally - which featured a break between Aaron Morris and Joe Marchant down the right hand side - wasn’t enough as they suffered their first defeat of the European season.
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