Saturday, 22nd September 2018 @ 18:00
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Harlequins were handed their third league defeat in a row after Bristol Bears ran out 20-13 winners at Ashton Gate.
The away side raced into a 0-10 lead thanks to a Danny Care try and the boot of James Lang. Bristol, however, fought their way back into the contest to lead 11-10 at the break thanks to a Piers O’Conor try and two Ian Madigan penalties.
Madigan sent over three further penalties to ensure Bristol were the victors, while Quins picked up two yellow cards in the second 40; having picked one up in the first half.
In contrast to the grey and greasy conditions of Ashton Gate, Quins began the game brightly and it took just five minutes for their early possession to count.
Danny Care collected the ball just shy of the Bristol try-line and darted through to slide over for his third try of the campaign. James Lang kicked the conversion between the posts to extend Quins’ early lead.
The conditions continued to make their impact upon play as a number of balls were kicked high and resultant penalties were inevitable. A James Lang kick from the tee to further extend the Quins lead sixteen minutes into the half was replied to with a kick between the posts by Bristol fly-half Ian Madigan to make the score 3-10 to Quins.
Momentum in the match started to swing as Bristol began to build in stature with a series of threatening attacks. Circumstances became more difficult for Quins as Ben Tapuai was shown a yellow card from referee Ian Tempest for deliberately refusing to roll away.
Quins’ defence stood strong, withstanding major pressure from a physical Bristol outfit, however Piers O’Conor was able to unlock the Quins door four minutes before the break.
The conversion was taken quickly and missed from Madigan, however Bristol regrouped to attack dangerously once more before the half-time interval. Madigan made no mistake from the tee this time following a penalty advantage and nudged Bristol into a narrow 11-10 lead.
The opening stages of the second half did not play out as Quins would have hoped for as Joe Marler was shown the second yellow card of the game following a TMO inspection leading the referee to judge that the Quins prop was guilty of leading with his forearm into a challenge.
The rain persisted throughout the second half and more penalties were to come as James Lang’s excellent penalty kick from 45 metres out came in response to three Madigan penalties, two bending between the posts impressively from acute angles to make the score 20-13 going into the final quarter.
Quins struggled to gain momentum in attack as the match became end-to-end at times with both teams opting to kick long and put the opponent under pressure due to the slippery surface. Paul Lasike became the third and final Quins player to be given a yellow card for a no arm tackle with just minutes on the clock.
Bristol maintained possession well throughout their third spell of the match with a man advantage, working through the phases across the Quins 22 metre line as the clock dwindled down with the away side needing a score to level.
Quins pushed hard to end the match strongly and salvage more than just a solitary losing bonus point. The ball was offloaded initially to Joe Marchant who burst through to surpass the Bristol 22m line. Quins recycled the ball quickly to ensure a tense finish, but Bristol stood firm and were eventually awarded a penalty ten metres from their own try-line to secure the victory.
Harlequins continue their spell on the road with a match against Gloucester Rugby next Saturday. The Londoners will return to The Stoop to face Saracens on Saturday 6th October (kick-off 19:30). To secure your seat head to the Ticket Office online or call 020 8410 6010.