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Author Topic: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report  (Read 261 times)

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Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« on: Monday 24-Sep-2018, 21:50 »
by Quintessentially Quins

As I sat in my office on Friday waiting for the team to be announced, I started to think about our season so far. A solid performance against a (currently) struggling Sale side that is lacking many of their big-name players, a solid defensive performance against another (currently) struggling Northampton side that managed to shut us out at the death to continue our poor away form & finally a solid start and strong finish flattered a terrible 60 minutes of rugby that was very reminiscent of last year! All being said this has not been the ideal start to the season for Quins but if we had won 2 of our games and had no bonus points and been on 8 points I think we would all be happy, the issue is winning breeds confidence which we clearly lack. The question is what will we get down in Bristol?

Bristol have looked good value so far in the premiership, defeating Bath on the opening day of the season and although not quite the same level of shock as when Exeter did the same to Gloucester when they came up, it was still a surprise. To then have to travel to Saracens and Gloucester, arguably two of the hardest away venues to come away with wins and have the lead at half-time in both was commendable. Against Sarries they were always going to struggle once Smith was shown a (rescinded) Red Card and at Gloucester they seemed to run out of energy a little, but although both of those scorelines looks very one sided, it certainly was not the case for most of those matches and Bristol will not be an easy win for any team this season.

By this point Quins have now announced their team for the match and will be buoyed by the return of Marler and Sinkler in the front row, Lang gets his (thoroughly deserved) first start of the season in place of Smith and Ross Chisholm comes in to replace Walker on the wing after some strong performances for the A team. It is a solid team, that is dripping with quality, however this is not new to Quins fans and the question will always remain as to which of our many sides will turn up on the day!

As I head down to Bristol the weather starts to look more and more like it will have a big affect on the game, the recent sunshine has descended into driving wind and rain, meaning the forwards and tactical kicking will become much more important. This thought fills me with dread as our forwards have unfortunately not quite yet shown that they can dominate in any facet of the game, and our tactical kicking from both 9 and 10 is something that has always been lacking as we have always preferred to play with the ball in hand.

Arriving at Ashton Gate the rain is falling and although the wind has died down it will still be a war of attrition with the small margins and the dreaded penalty count coming strongly into play. Ashton Gate itself is a nice stadium, I didnít sample the food on this occasion but there seemed to be some good options. From a drinks point of view you certainly do benefit when you visit a stadium of that size when it is not full as you are easily able to get a drink without having too much trouble with the queues. So I now have my Thatchers Gold in hand and take my seat in the South Stand to watch the match.

After a nice hanging kick-off and good chase from Marchant Quins are able to pin Bristol immediately back in their 22 and put them under some good pressure. After a decent clearance from Madigan Quins take control of the possession and have the majority of the ball, after some sustained pressure Quins win a penalty for a Bristol player not rolling away and decide to kick to the corner. The call is made and Crumpton hits his mark and Quins set up a great maul, with Quins moving forward Bristol infringe again and Quins get the penalty advantage. This gives Care the ability to make his move, quickly getting the ball and searching for his options, luckily Madigan makes the decision all too easy by rushing out in defence and leaving a huge hole for Care to dart through and score the first try of the game (also overtaking Ugo in the list of all time Quins scorers and now only 1 behind Mike Brown), Lang adds the extras to give Quins a 7 point lead and a dream start to the match.

(Danny crosses for the first score and closes in on the Quins try scoring record)
Quins are able to maintain most of the possession, but the attack seems blunt and lacking in any ideas. Quins do manage to steal a penalty as George Smith gets (wrongly in my opinion) penalised for not releasing the tackler before going after the ball, Lang steps up and puts Quins 10 points ahead after 15 minutes. At this point the Quins fans in the stadium have their pre-game nerves settled and would not be blamed for starting to think maybe this is it, maybe we are going to play for 80 minutes!
Sadly that was not to be the case, Bristol begin to get their hands on the ball, mostly thanks to Quins poor kicking, and start to make ground with relative ease, after a few passages of play Marler (wrongly in my opinion due to Thacker taking him out from the side) gets penalised for not releasing before going after the ball and going off his feet. Madigan is more than happy to take his opportunity and nails the kick to cut the quins lead to 7. From the resulting kick-off Quins and Bristol exchange a couple of knock-ons before Bristol work their way round the side of Quins, Chisholm and Tapui manage to bring down Leiua, however Tapui was unfortunately to be deemed to make no attempt to roll away (I think he did and was then trapped and held in by a Bristol player) and was subsequently penalised and harshly yellow carded for his trouble.

(Marler giving away a penalty, with Thacker seemingly coming in from the side)
Quins managed to weather the yellow card well, with Bristol putting the pressure on but the Quins defence holding up to the challenge and forcing mistakes. At this point Lang had to go get some attention to a nose injury so Smith came on in his place. On the 30 minute mark Smith put up a speculative high kick, the chase at first looked good however a gentle nudge from a Bristol player meant Morris overran and although Earle made his tackle, the ball was allowed to be offloaded to Leiua who made a surging run into the Quins half and a deft little kick sat up before the line and forced Care to carry the ball over the line giving Bristol a 5m scrum during the last seconds of Tapuiís card. From the resulting attack Quins managed once again to stand up in defence and force Bristol to make a mistake and knock-on, allowing Quins to clear their lines.

Bristol still have all the possession and after a couple of phases from a line out the Bristol 9 found Thacker running a sublime line back towards the ruck and stormed through before offloading to Madigan who was tackled a couple of meters short of the Quins line. Quick rucking and one pass to OíConnor meant he was diving over the line and getting Bristol their well deserved try, Madigan subsequently decided to take a quick drop kick at goal, which he missed, indicating that Bristol where worried about a potential TMO intervention. Having looked closely at the footage the only potential issue would be a block on Wallace who, arguably, would have made the tackle on Thacker or at the very least slowed him and allowed others to make the tackle. It happened very quickly and was missed by most, so I do not blame the referee for this miss and Bristol used the rules in their favour to stop any chance of the TMO getting involved. This cuts the Quins lead down to 2 with only 4 minutes left of the first half.

(The arms of Luke Wallace being blocked from making tackle on Thacker that led to try)
Quins were able to put Bristol under pressure and after Danny manged to latch on to an overthrown lineout he put a lovely chip in behind, which Bristol subsequently carried over their own line to give Quins the 5m Scrum. I was very excited at this point, our scrum had been holding up well and this is one of the best attacking platforms we have managed to get since the first 10 mins. The scrum got set and as they engage the Bristol prop dropped to his knees before the whole scrum collapse, a standard collapse in premiership terms cue a reset, Ian Tempest took a couple of seconds but suddenly blows his whistle and gives the penalty to Bristol! Leaving myself and many other Quins fans near me dumbfounded, apparently Tempest decided that Sinkler had changed his bind and proceeded to pull the Bristol prop down, something that even the commentators for the match had a hard-time seeing. A great opportunity missed and with Quins when it rains pens it pours, another penalty at the lineout and another great attacking chance for Bristol, during the attack Glynn gets penalised for his hands going passed the ball and on the floor. At this point Quins are lucky that the Bristol 9 asks for the pen and Tempest delivers, if the 9 had not asked and just whipped the ball out they would have been on for a try, still the pen allowed Bristol an easy 3 in front of the posts and ended the first half in front 11-10.

The second half started much the same as the first went, with Quins seemingly not wanting the ball and if they did get it they would proceed to kick it aimlessly back to Bristol and allow them to attack. On the 48th minute the game was halted for a long period of time as the Bristol 9 received some treatment after Marler went on the charge. As the replays came through all the Quins fans in the stadium knew what was coming, Marler (innocuously) led with his elbow and caught the Bristol 9 in the neck/jaw and due to it not being his ball carrying his arm he was subsequently penalised and then shown a yellow card for his troubles. It is a tough call and at the time I did not agree but it seems like the ref was left with little choice after seeing it slowed down etcÖ however how many times do similar incidents happen in a game and not get punished?? (I comment more on this at the end of the report) Madigan slotted the conversion and took the Bristol lead to 4.

(Marler getting in trouble by leading with the forearm)
Bristol continue to hold possession and set up a good driving maul on the 51st minute, as the maul came around the corner Ward is penalised for taking it down as Quins penalty issues continue to dominate the performance, Madigan again answers the call and slots the pen to take the lead to 7. Within a couple of minutes Quins finally get their hands back on the ball and even manage to stop the run of points against them as they win a penalty for Madigan not rolling away at the ruck, Lang stepped up well to slot the kick and score quins first points since the 15th minute but sadly also our last of the match. Another quick penalty from Stan South for hands on the floor (called as harsh by the commentators) gives Madigan a chance to take it back out to a 7 point lead and he duly delivers on the 59th minute.

There was not much to discuss for the next 17 minutes, other than the unforgivable long throw at the lineout 5m out from Bristolís line, as Quins blunt attack made no headway and Bristol made nothing of their possession. On the 77th minute another talking point emerges as Bristol are on the attack, as Lasike, who has been delivering some thundering shots in defence, clatters into Madigan as he attempts to quickly hit the ball on. Tempest does not immediately call any issue with the tackle but after seeing a replay once again goes to the TMO, after consultation Tempest rules that Lasike made no attempt to use his arms and then therefore must go to the bin. I, personally, have a different view which I share below after the end of the match report section. Quins manage to get their hands on the ball again just before time and can attack Bristol, finally they start to show some menace and determination and even make ground! However, after a few phases, getting into the 22 and Bristol straying offside Morris unfortunately drops the ball under pressure, the ref is happy with Bristolís defence and calls an end to the game.

It was a sad end and unfortunately reminiscent of last years form, we still do not have a win on the road since November 2017 in the Anglo Welsh Cup and we are staring down the barrel of Gloucester Away and Sarries who have won all 4 of their matches this season with a bonus point. Any other side in the league would have killed us in that match and we would certainly not have not a losing bonus point. We somehow sit in 6th place in the league but that is perilously close to 12th who are only 5 points behind, we knew that Gustard had a hard task on his hands and I am sure he knew it too, the question is can he pull us out of this rut? I am going to be optimistic and think he can, it will take time and I think we will be lucky to finish in the top 6 let alone higher than 10th this year, anyway I will still get fully behind the team and support them as loud and proud as I can, COME ON YOU QUINS!!
(Here are now some ramblings about the Lasike and Marler cardís and some issues I see creeping into rugby, happy to hear others thoughts 😊 )

For the Lasike card I believe that he is committed to making the tackle, he brings out his arms ready to hit but, as Madigan does a quick tap on and begins to spin Lasike tries to pull out of the tackle and unfortunately runs into Madigan (who subsequently milks the hit for all it is worth). Was Lasike in the wrong for running into Madigan? Maybe. Was it a penalty? Maybe, but how many times to players run in to people during a match. Was it a yellow card? In my opinion no. Do I think that this would have changed the game, I am not so sure but that is not really my point.

(Lasike with both arms out, Madiganís spin seems to cause the problems)
We are at a point in rugby that in my opinion is leading to some serious issues entering the game, for both Marler and Lasikeís cards the only reason these got a second look is due to the reaction of the player on the receiving end. The scrum half grabbed at his throat and spun away (granted it may have hurt) however it is when he started to grab around his left eye which is an area that as far as I could tell was not touched during the collision that I start to wonder how much pain he was actually in. If he had not had that reaction (like the many other people who probably get hit in much the same way during a game) then Marler would not have been yellow carded as it would not even have been looked at. The same could be said of Madigan who rolled around on the floor, again maybe it did hurt a bit but probably no more than any other tackle during that match. Do we need to protect the players from dangerous play that could do serious long-term damage? Of course, and no one would argue otherwise, my concern is that young players may see these players reacting so aggressively to these incidents and feel that this is the way to milk a pen and even a card for the opposing team, but even worse that this is what rugby is actually like! (End of rant)

(Donít think Marler caught you there??)

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Everyoneís a Quinner

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Re: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« Reply #1 on: Monday 24-Sep-2018, 21:52 »
Good in depth report 👍🏽
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Re: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« Reply #2 on: Monday 24-Sep-2018, 22:32 »
A great read, thanks QQ.
« Last Edit: Tuesday 25-Sep-2018, 16:35 by BedfordshireBoy »
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Quintessentially Quins

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Re: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 25-Sep-2018, 07:21 »

Looks like we might have actually been lucky with the Marler decision based on the Leinster v Edinburgh game: https://www.rugbydump.com/news/prop-red-carded-for-leading-with-the-elbow-but-former-players-disagree


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Re: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 25-Sep-2018, 09:34 »
Good analysis, thanks
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Re: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 25-Sep-2018, 09:46 »
Good read, thanks!
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Re: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 25-Sep-2018, 11:32 »
Enjoyed that, thanks
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Re: Bristol vs Harlequins Match Report
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday 26-Sep-2018, 22:50 »
Terrific,  thanks. I especially like the building up to the match and the wider implications you discuss afterwards. I do think Marler's yellow was harsh. Lasike's was a bit more difficult to defend. Tapuai's was inexplicable! The poor guy was clearly pinned! Anyway, excellent write-up, thank you.
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