Monday, 24th September 2018 @ 22:00
Harlequins’ winning start to the Premeriship Rugby Shield continued with an entertaining 22-31 victory over Bath United at The Rec.
Quins’ four tries gave them another bonus point as they consolidated their lead at the top of the Southern Conference of the Premiership Rugby Shield.
But the visitors knew they were in for a battle from the kick-off and found themselves behind after only three minutes when flanker Jack Davies charged over after some early Bath pressure from a driving maul that started just inside Quins’ 22.
Alex Davies converted to make it 7-0 but Quins showed a determination to run at their opponents from deep in their own half throughout the game and the pace of Gabriel Ibitoye on the wing and Charlie Walker at Full-back was soon causing havoc with their opponents’ defence.
However it was Lock Dino Lamb who was first to score for the visitors as an impressive burst from hooker Jack Musk, set him up to go over from close range. James Dixon, who usually plays Fly-half for the Army but was Quins’ guest for the evening in the position, couldn’t find the target from a tight position on the left but Quins were back in it after six minutes at 7-5.
Alofa Alofa was causing trouble of his own at Outside Centre and a looping pass of his almost released Walker to tear away down the left. While Quins were unable to convert that move they remained undeterred and continued their exciting running rugby from their own 22. Again Ibitoye and Walker combined for what would have been the move of the match after 20 minutes but Walker was again denied close to the line.
A Lamb knock-on when trying to run clear from his own 22 gave Bath a scrum in a dangerous area and when Quins were penalised at the following scrum Davies was given a simple chance to extend Bath’s lead to 10-5.
Quins’ reply was immediate, though and having won a scrum from the re-start, the ball was quickly shipped to Ibitoye who broke a couple of tackles and released Walker on the right wing to go over in the corner.
Bath went into half-time 15-10 ahead after a driving maul from a lineout five yards from the line saw Michael Van Muren pile over but a minute after the re-start Quins took the lead when a beautiful chip through by prop George Head gave Ibitoye the chance to show his speed again as he kicked the ball ahead and went over under the posts. Dixon converted to make it 15-17.
Head, who enjoyed an excellent performance, then had a try disallowed for a forward pass after brilliant work by Lamb, Hugh Tizard and Josh McNulty had punctured holes in the Bath defence in the 56th minute. But just moments later Dixon was able to extend Quins’ lead with a wonderful penalty taken 40 yards from goal following a Bath off-side.
The match continued to see-saw and the hosts’ powerful pack earned themselves another try when Dan Hill charged over right under the posts and Davies converted to make it 22-20. Neither side seemed to want to take control of the game and when Bath conceded another penalty inside their own 22, Dixon gratefully stepped up to set up a grandstand finish - with the score at 22-23 with 10 minutes remaining.
But it was Quins who eventually too control of the match and Cadan Murley who made sure of the victory when he spotted a gap on Bath’s 22 and darted over for a try. Dixon couldn’t convert this time which made for a nervy last three minutes but Quins held firm and a penalty in the last seconds for Dixon secured a third consecutive Premiership Rugby Shield win.
Speaking after the match, Skills and Off the Ball Coach Nick Evans said: "Ibitoye was brilliant but I thought there were 23 superstars out there tonight. We wanted to press them with our tempo, they set-pieced us for a bit and got a couple of tries through that but we always believed we could finish really strong."
Harlequins will return to The Stoop on Saturday 6th October to face Saracens in Round 6 of the Gallagher Premiership (kick-off 19:30). Secure your tickets online or by calling the Ticket Office on 020 8410 6010.