Friday, 22nd April 2016 @ 22:40
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With their strongest squad finally named on the pre match team sheet Harlequins put in one of their best performance of the season to beat Grenoble 30-6 and book a place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
It was the summer signing Jamie Roberts that gave Harlequins the early lead when he ran a trademark line to score under the posts.
While Quins dominated the early exchanges Grenoble worked themselves back into the game to keep the scores close at half-time. Harlequins leading just 13-6.
In the second half it was a Harlequins veteran that would swing the game. Nick Evans, in his comeback from a broken leg, scored with his first touch to break the game open.
When George Lowe crossed in the 70th minute it was game over as Harlequins ran out 30-6 winners to book themselves a trip to Lyon in three weeks time.
Harlequins have had an inconsistent season by their standards but all year Europe has been a happy home for them. Six wins out of seven, and scoring for fun, they came into the game confident and knowing that this was their only chance at silverware.
They got on top early thanks to a Ben Botica penalty before Roberts extended the lead further. Piling on the pressure in the Grenoble half Danny Care gave a short ball to the Welshman who burst through the line to score.
Botica and Jonathan Wisniewski would exchange penalties as Quins lead 13-3 after the opening quarter, thanks in large part to their dominant scrum.
Under pressure the French side would work their way back into the match and in the 27th minute close the gap to 13-6. Suddenly all of Harlequins' hard work didn’t look too convincing as they went into the break ahead by only a converted try.
The second half was a different story. Harlequins put together one of the best 40 minute spells of their season. Strong at the set piece, physical in defence and clinical on attack – they had all the possession and territory in the opening exchanges.
Ten minutes into the half The Stoop crowd would rise in unison as Evans made his long awaited comeback. And what a comeback it was.
With his first touch he put a grubber kick in behind the defence, collected and scored under the posts. His conversion giving his side a 20-6 lead.
He would extend it further on the hour mark with a penalty as Grenoble could not contain a Quins side with their trials well and truly up.
The visitors never looked like scoring and on the 70 minute mark another grubber behind the defence, this time by Danny Care, put George Lowe over to score.
Evans again would kick the extras as the home side led 30-6, a score line that would remain the same until Referee John Lacey blew his whistle on proceedings.
Conor O’Shea will be proud of his side that rose to the big occasion and lived to fight another day. They will now face either Montpellier or Newport Gwent Dragons as they look to claim their fourth Challenge Cup title.
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