Sunday, 28th February 2016 @ 14:00
It was billed as a battle of third and fourth but a six tries to two performance saw Wasps cruise to a 42-10 win over Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena.
Wasps came into the match as the form side in the Aviva Premiership having picked up 23 points from their previous six matches and in an impressive first half they scored three tries to lead 21-5 at the break. A Luke Wallace try the solitary points for the visitors.
While Harlequins played far better in the second period, even on top at times, both sides matched their first half scores as Wasps ran out 42-10 winners to surge five points clear of their rivals.
Harlequins came into the match with some much needed confidence after a home win over Leicester Tigers last weekend, but their opposition had won an impressive six on the bounce in all competitions including the scalps of Leinster and Saracens.
With so many of the Quins squad away on international duty, they were exposed time and time again in the opening quarter as Wasps repeatedly made chances from deep through their electric back line.
The Harlequins forwards did their best to match the physicality of Nathan Hughes and co but a scoreless opening twenty minutes probably flattered the visitors.
In the 23rd minute Man of the Match Jake Cooper-Woolley finally broke down the desperate defence after a number of attacking line outs from Wasps.
Just minutes later, the explosive Christian Wade scored in the other corner and Harlequins were in a 14-0 hole with half an hour gone on the clock.
From the restart Marland Yarde rose high to win back possession for Quins which briefly lifted the side and against the run of play, Luke Wallace crashed over from close range to close the gap to 14-5.
The match had well and truly sprung into life but unfortunately for the travelling Quins supporters it was Nathan Hughes who would power over next. Jimmy Gopperth remained perfect from the tee and the home side went into the break 21-5 ahead.
Comfortably out played over the first 40 minutes Harlequins came out of the break on the attack with Ross Chisholm making a scintillating break from the kick off.
While it didn’t result in points, it again lifted the Londoners and they would claw their way back into the match, eventually scoring in the 56th minute through Charlie Walker who finished off a try set up by his forward pack.
Any signs of a comeback would soon be sniffed out however after a relentless passage of play that seemingly lasted five minutes without a break. Both sides went back and forth countering from deep before flanker Thomas Young crossed for the bonus point try. Ahead 28-10 with about 15 minutes to play it was about damage control now.
Conor O’Shea rung the changes, giving debuts to Beau Robinson and Sam Egerton, and while they would continue to fight for a bonus point they were outclassed by an in-form Wasps outfit.
Siale Piatua scored the fifth try, another long range effort, before Brendon Macken sealed the contest with time expired. Wasps eventually running out 42-10 winners.
The match may have been billed as third versus fourth but after the match Harlequins slipped down to sixth in the table with Gloucester and Sale hot on their tails (the latter with a match in hand).
It is going to be a tough few weeks as Harlequins look to stay in playoff contention until their internationals return in late March. In the meantime they will look to put this performance behind them as they face a short turn around before another away trip to Sale Sharks on Saturday.