Saturday, 23rd February 2019 @ 16:55
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Harlequins secure their fourth consecutive Premiership win for the first time since the 2013/14 season with a commanding display at home against Bristol Bears.
Tries from Ross Chisholm, Marcus Smith, Mike Brown, Joe Marchant and Nathan Earle got the job done at The Stoop as Quins maintain their third-place position in the Gallagher Premiership table.
Both sides start with intent, however it was Bristol who broke the deadlock after 10 minutes with a try from fullback Charles Piutau. Fly-half Callum Sheedy broke through the Quins defensive line and kicked downfield, allowing flanker Steven Luatua to get on the end of it. After recycling successfully, the Bears spread it wide to Piutau who ran over for the first score of the match. With the conversion added by Sheedy, Bristol led 7-0.
Quins looked to reply instantly, however, and after the ball spilled out of a ruck inside the Bristol 22 from the kick-off, scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone recovered the ball, shovelled it over to Joe Marchant on the blindside who then grubbered the ball along the touchline to the end zone to allow Ross Chisholm to dot down. With the kick added by Smith from the touchline, Quins had brought the score, level 7-7.
Five minutes later, Bristol responded with another score of their own following some sustained pressure inside the Quins half. Having sent their big ball carriers up the middle, drawing in the Quins defence, Sheedy again spread the ball wide, this time to winger Alapati Leiua who ran in the try. With the conversion missed, Bristol led 12-7.
Again, Quins’ response was immediate and on the 23rd minute, Marcus Smith ran in his side’s second try of the afternoon after some direct running lines from the forwards created him some space inside the Bristol 22. After slotting home the conversion, Smith had put his side ahead by two points, 14-12.
Eight minutes later, Quins added a third score, this time from Mike Brown. With this try, Brown equalled Harlequins’ try-scoring record in the professional era held by Ugo Monye (89). Even with the conversion missed, Quins had opened up a seven-point lead, 19 points to 12.
Quins then brought up the try-scoring bonus point on 35 minutes courtesy of a try from Joe Marchant. After a knock-on from Bristol on halfway, former Bear Ben Glynn carried the ball up to inside the Bristol 22 before offloading to Marchant who ran in under the posts. This was Marchant’s eighth of the season and also the third consecutive Gallagher Premiership fixture where Quins have scored four or more tries in the first half. With Smith adding the extras, the home team went into the interval leading by 26 points to 12.
On the 47th minute, Quins started to ring the changes with Lewis Boyce replacing Joe Marler in the front row and James Lang coming on for Marcus Smith at Fly Half.
On the 61st minute, Bristol crossed the whitewash for a third try, this time through fly-half Sheedy. After recovering a box kick on halfway from Charlie Mulchrone, Charles Piutau ran the ball back at Quins and passed inside to Sheedy who crossed the whitewash under the posts. After adding the extras, Sheedy had brought the score to 26-19.
Quins made further changes in personnel on the 65th minute, with Phil Swainston, George Merrick and Dave Lewis coming on for Will Collier, Ben Glynn and Charlie Mulchone. Francis Saili also came on for Ben Tapuai at inside centre.
On the 68 minute-mark, following an infringement at the ruck, James Lang slotted home a penalty kick to increase his side’s lead to three. Quins now led 29 points to 19 with just over 10 minutes left.
Then, on the 76th minute, following more sustained pressure inside the Bristol 22, Nathan Earle got on the end of a pass from Lang to go over in the corner. With the kick converted by fly-half from the touchline, Quins led 36-19.
Bristol added a final try on the 80th minute, and second from Leiua, after a break from replacement Mat Protheroe put the winger away in the corner. With the kick from Madigan, the final score was left 36-26 to Harlequins.
Harlequins are back in action at The Stoop in Round 16 when they face Gloucester Rugby on Sunday 10th March (kick-off: 13:00). Get your tickets online or by calling the Ticket Office on 020 8410 6010.