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Author Topic: Match Report - Harlequins vs Agen 13 Oct 18  (Read 229 times)

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Match Report - Harlequins vs Agen 13 Oct 18
« on: Tuesday 16-Oct-2018, 22:05 »
by InsertQuinsPunHere

I quite enjoy the blocks of European games when they come around; it is nice to get a bit of variety in opposition, and to see how teams from different leagues play. In typical French style, Agen had a combination of brute force and power, alongside some decent running lines that could trouble most defences.

It was my second time of using the new Zeelo coaches, and the second free trip. The first trip was free as an introductory offer, the second was free as an apology for the first trip being so delayed that I had to stand in the rain for about an hour before the Sarries game. No Deadly, I still have no idea how they make any money! They are a useful additional travel option though; especially when the trains are on strike, or engineering works, or just generally being rubbish - so most weekends then.

The coach arrived very early to the ground, leaving me with much wandering to do before even the players came out to do their warm-ups. Which were excellent to watch, I think I will try to get in that early again. It was nice to player spot, and to see what each focused on. Gustard was joining in the tackling practice with great physicality, stopping some of the backs dead in their tracks with Rugby League style upright tackles. His rapport with the players was obvious.

So on to the game. Agen decided to play some mind games at kick-off. With the sun low over the South Stand, playing in that direction to start was going to be a distinct disadvantage. So they decided to simply assume that they could kick-off facing North and began to array themselves in the southern half of the field. Once the coin had been tossed though, our boys were gracious in victory and didn't engage in any "commiseratory back slapping" as the Agen boys were traipsing back to face the sun :-D

From kick-off, Agen looked dangerous. They were carrying hard and taking a lot of stopping. It was hot out there in the sun, though, despite it being mid-October, and it did not appear to be a pace that could be kept up for long. The Quins took a while to settle into the game, with Marcus Smith delivering a chip through that was too long, then snatching a pass shortly afterwards. The defensive line was holding for now though. Just.

Mulchrone needs to start a few more games in my opinion. DC is a firm favourite of mine, but he needs a bit of encouragement to not relax in his position. Mulchrone's service from the base seems far snappier to me. Having said all that, Mulchrone appeared to have caught "flappy-arm-itis" from his senior; such actions almost losing him the ball from the base of a ruck in front of their posts. Only Marcus Smith's quick action to gather the ball after it was kicked through by Agen, and his deft pass to feed Ibitoye allowed Mulchrone to get away with it.

Then followed two very nice breaks from Ibitoye to set up our first try for Mike Brown.

Agen rose to the challenge admirably, putting us under an extended period of pressure, and making many hard yards. It all came to nothing for them, as our defence held firm, and they had to settle for 3 points from a penalty.

Our second try, by Mulchrone, followed some great passing by Quins, dragging Agen about, and keeping the ball alive.

This was quickly followed by one of our backs (I know not which) beautifully reading Agen's plan to clear their lines. They dropped back behind a ruck to receive the ball for a kick to touch, but our man was already running at full pelt from his side of the ruck, and made the charge down seemingly as the Agen player caught the ball. We turned the ball over and speedily re-organized for our third try (Semi Kunatani). This was rapidly becoming a good day to be a Quins fan; heaven knows we've had few enough of those in recent times.

Other points of note from the first half (or should that be "other things I remembered to note down") were a great strip by the Sinck, Marcus scrambling back for a fantastic covering tackle, a well worked Agen try (they hadn't given up just yet), and a missed conversion from them. The latter was in a difficult position anyway, but was also straight into the sun, so we'll let them off.

Just before half time, Agen gained one of their players a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on. They understandably weren't interested in continuing when the clock went dead and were keen to kill the ball immediately to go get their half-time oranges. Score Quins 21-8 Agen.

The second half started in fine fashion with a lovely team try. Lots of good offloading, including one from the Sinck, and Earle earning a well deserved finish to grab the honours. Unfortunately Marcus missed the conversion, but by this point, two points were largely academic. Earle was substituted off through injury shortly afterwards - I wish him a speedy recovery. He is rapidly becoming a favourite of mine through his application, enthusiasm, and ability.

Then came a strange sight; Harlequins scoring a try from a rolling maul. Yes, a try, from a rolling maul, for the Harlequins... I'm not sure how to deal with that either, but the crowd enjoyed it.

I think Quins must have been shell-shocked from the aforementioned event, because they seemed to go to sleep a little bit. This lead to a poor offload from Tapuai straight at one of his team mates, bouncing the ball up into the air. The resulting turnover leading to Agen's second try.

Gustard responded by immediately substituting the entire front row. I like Crumpton as a hooker, he seems a very solid player, and we've been in need of some stability in that position for a while. But Elia Elia is also good, and proceeded to make a nuisance of himself for the rest of the game.

A subsequent Quins line-out resulted in a rolling maul being pushed easily 10 metres - as if to prove that not only was the earlier attempt no fluke, but that the entire squad were capable of doing it, not just today's starting forwards.

Marchant, who was on form all game, gathered a high ball with aplomb, saw support on his shoulder, and delivered a decent offload, only for his support to slip and the ball to go loose. A following scrum (can't remember if it was from that passage of play, or a bit later) had Bothma grabbing the ball out of the back, and making yards down the blindside. An offload to Ibitoye went a bit wrong, much to my disappointment, only for me to discover that the reason wasn't poor skills, but another deliberate knock-on from Agen. This resulted in another yellow card and a penalty try to Quins.

At this point, I think I had given up taking notes. The crowd had also, unfortunately, decided that since the game was won, they didn't need to cheer anything other than big events anymore, so it became a bit quieter. Step forward Kunatani with an enormous tackle to turn the ball over. Followed by a Marchant try - cleverly dragging the conversion in field towards the posts by dummying a dot-down, then skinning his marker to score behind him.

Agen scored their third and final try of the day, but Quins turned the ball over right from the kick-off. Then Cat threw the ball right at Kunatani, who recovered it from the floor behind him and exploded into action to score Quins' seventh try of the day.

The game ended with the biggest tackle I have seen from a Quin since the days of Big Mo. I don't know who delivered it, but I feel sorry for the Agen player who was on the receiving end of that right at the death. That likely made for a sore coach journey home!

To cap off the whole wonderful afternoon, I am pleased to say that the entire squad (as far as I could make out) made the journey the full circumference of the pitch to greet the fans and thank us for our support. I have not seen this for a good while, and it is how it should be. I did notice that they went "the wrong way" around - I assume one more example of Gustard's simple changes to improve the feeling of a fresh start.

I have a good feeling about this season's challenge cup. I'm going to put my prediction down in print as us getting through to the semi-finals. Perhaps I'll even book my ticket to the final in Newcastle with my next paycheque.
« Last Edit: Tuesday 16-Oct-2018, 22:12 by Admin »

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Re: Match Report - Harlequins vs Agen 13 Oct 18
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 16-Oct-2018, 22:16 »
Excellent write up, IQPH. I hope you'll continue to be one of the scribes.

Speaking of which next scribe needed is for 27/10/18   Bath   (A)   Prem Cup   
Who fancies this one?
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Re: Match Report - Harlequins vs Agen 13 Oct 18
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 17-Oct-2018, 09:58 »
Very enjoyable, thank you!
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Re: Match Report - Harlequins vs Agen 13 Oct 18
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 20-Oct-2018, 18:33 »
Thanks for doing it



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