Friday, 28th February 2020 @ 17:00
Quins recorded a memorable victory in a thrilling contest to oversee league leaders Exeter Chiefs, 34-30, at The Stoop.
Three minutes into the game, Exeter Chiefs scored the opener through Phil Dollman after weaving his way through the Quins defence. Joe Simmonds added the extras, giving Chiefs an early 0-7 lead.
But Quins won the scrum penalty four minutes later, bouncing back with three points following Marcus Smith’s successful kick, narrowing the score to 3-7.
On the 10-minute mark, Chiefs extended their lead to 3-10 through the boot of Simmonds again, after referee Christophe Ridley called for an infringement in the ruck.
Despite the opening score, Quins showed real hunger in the opening 20 minutes, as highlighted after 18 minutes turning over possession before a Marcus Smith grubber nearly set Travis Ismaiel over the line. Quins did brilliantly to win the scrum five metres out, then managing to win the penalty which was taken quickly by Danny Care, feeding the ball into the hands of Paul Lasike who powered over for Quins’ opening try of the match. Marcus Smith levelled the score, making it 10-10 after 21 minutes.
Continuing their momentum, Quins took the lead for the first time in the match on the 28th minute with fly half Marcus Smith kicking from distance to add the three points for a 13-10 lead.
After a spell of possession for the visitors, Quins were penalised for offside on the 33rd minute which resulted in a match-levelling penalty kick from Simmonds who tied the score at 13-13 – just in time for the hail storm – seeing the sides heading into the break, level.
The opening moments of the second half belonged to Quins; winning the scrum penalty before seemingly crossing the line after Danny Care took a quick tap. But the scrum half was forced into a knock on over the line from the Exeter defence. However, after reviewing on the screen, the referee brought the game back for a Quins penalty on the five-metre line, penalising Chiefs for not being 10 metres back from the previous penalty.
From the subsequent attack, Lasike bundled his way through again but was stopped short, and the ball was played out to Fijian lock Tex Cavubati who was able to cross the whitewash and put Quins back in the lead. Smith’s extras took the score to 20-13 after 44 minutes.
But Exeter bounced back on the 50th minute after some quick play saw Joe Simmonds dot down in the corner. The fly half levelled the score, converting his own try to bring the scoreboard to 20-20.
Moments later, Chiefs’ captain Simmonds weaved his way through to cross the line again after some powerful attacking play from the away side. The fly half secured 14 individual points in the space of four minutes after he added the two, taking the score to 20-27.
With under 20 minutes on the clock, Quins made the most of a penalty deep in the Exeter half, with Dombrandt peeling away from the scrum quickly and feeding it to Danny Care who disposed of the ball to Marcus Smith who showed his pace to find the line. Despite the wind, the fly half managed to put the ball between the sticks from his kick and the scores were tied again, 27-27.
However, it wasn’t too long before Exeter were back in front, with Simmonds adding another three to his tally for the day and extending the lead to 27-30 after 67 minutes as Quins were reduced to 14 men, with Nick Auterac sent to the sin bin.
Quins responded with relentless, back-to-back phases of attack deep in the Chiefs’ half, which seemed to be over after Marcus Smith knocked the ball on in contact, however the officials reviewed the tackle which was deemed dangerous and Quins had the penalty inside the Exeter 22m and the visitors were reduced to 14 men as a result.
Herron found touch from the penalty and the lineout set up another Quins attack. The Exeter defence held strong and they forced a Quins knock on five metres out. However, Quins were able to turn over possession from the scrum and win a penalty with only a minute to go. Quins opted for the scrum, which saw Quins claim another penalty in the initial breakdown. From the resulting scrum, Exeter conceded another penalty with the clock on zero and Come On You Quins resounding around the Twickenham Stoop.
Another scrum penalty later, and with Exeter reduced to 13 men, the ball finally made its way out of the scrum as Saili dropped the ball, but the referee had already called for Exeter offside, giving Quins another penalty. But Exeter conceded another penalty from the scrum and a penalty try was awarded, as The Stoop erupted and Quins came away with a memorable 34-30 victory.
Next Sunday, Harlequins head to Ashton Gate to take on Bristol Bears before facing Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium in the Premiership Rugby Cup Final on Sunday 15 March. Quins return to The Stoop on Saturday 22 March, hosting Sale in the Gallagher Premiership. Tickets are available at tickets.quins.co.uk