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Author Topic: Match Report: Harlequins vs Exeter  (Read 224 times)

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Match Report: Harlequins vs Exeter
« on: Thursday 06-Dec-2018, 08:55* »
Quins Boss The Chiefs.
by BedfordshireBoy

Another Friday night under the lights with the usual challenge of negotiating the M25 at peak period, quite breezy and overcast but at least the recent rain was forecast to stay clear. Must admit that I had a good feeling about this game, not necessarily expecting a win but certainly a good performance from a Quins squad that seems to be finding itself once again. Only one change for Quins with Ben Glynn replacing Matt Symonds in the second row; as an aside I am still waiting to see the Symonds Horwell combination perform regularly for Quins although just seeing James Horwell back on the field would be a real bonus.

James Lang got the game underway with Quins looking very lively in the opening minutes and being awarded a penalty a couple of minutes from the start. Quins kick to the Chiefs twenty two, win the line out but play is brought to an end as Quins spill the ball 10 metres from the Chiefs line. Quins eventually get some reward from their pressure when Chiefs are penalised at the scrum giving Lang a fairly straightforward conversion attempt, Quins 3 Chiefs 5 after 6 minutes. Although Quins clear the restart kick to touch, a whole series of penalties eventually sees Chiefs with a line out 5 metres from the Quins line to set up a classic Chiefs rolling maul which sees Matt Kevesic touch down for a try. The conversion attempt from Joe Simmonds hits the post leaving the score Quins 3 Chiefs 5 after 14 minutes. A bit of a Deja Vu moment after that score seeing Chiefs scoring a try following their first incursion into the Quins half, I wonder how many of their points have come from the 5m rolling maul?

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Chiefs First Try

Chiefs continue to press for a period with it looking inevitable that they will score again but Quins hold out and clear the ball from a scrum after a Chiefs knock on under the posts. A period of play confined to the midfield but Quins work their way into the Chiefs half and are awarded a penalty for Chiefs killing the ball which Langs kicks to the Chiefs corner. Another successful line out from a Dave Ward throw sees Glynn take the ball which captain James Chisholm takes and runs around the edge of the Chiefs defence to touchdown for a well taken try. This time it is James Langs turn to hit the posts with a conversion attempt, Quins 8 Chiefs 5 with 10 minutes left of the first half. Quins are certainly well up for this contest and look by far the most dangerous team in open play with Chiefs making a lot of uncharacteristic errors. As half time approaches Danny Care makes a lovely break into Chiefs territory which unfortunately ends up with a pass to nobody but with less than 2 minutes to the interval, Chiefs knock the ball on 30 metres out from their line. Quins win the scrum ball, Care shifts the ball to Francis Saili whose perfectly timed pass finds Mike Brown who slips the ball to Nathan Earle who bundles over in the corner. Another conversion kick missed by Lang but Quins lead at the break by 13 points to 5, probably a fair reflection of the first 40minutes.

The Chiefs start the second half and Quins safely gather the ball but a Sinckler knock on results in a Chiefs scrum. After a reset, Chiefs are penalised allowing Lang to find touch on the halfway line, Quins win the ball and a high kick from Care sees a great chase from Ibitoye who tackles the Chiefs player on their twenty two. Quins still playing with a very solid defence and running some good lines in attack but often just seem to try a bit too hard to manufacture something out of nothing. Chiefs win another penalty and turn down another chance to kick at goal and opt once again to kick to the corner. Quins are penalised for off side as the Chiefs attack breaks down but another kick to the corner keeps the pressure on Quins.

Same old routine for Chiefs, and although Quis are yet again penalised, this time the Chiefs pack drives over the line. Captain Jack Yeandle comes up with the ball, the Simmonds conversion is accurate and Chiefs move within one point of the Quins total, Quins 13 Chiefs 12 after 51 minutes. Chiefs are penalised for holding on following the restart which allows Lang to find touch bout 19 metres from the Chiefs line. Chiefs replace Dave Dennis with Ollie Atkins in the second row and Steenson for Simmonds a minute later. Quins win yet another line out and from the resulting attack phase a precision grubber kick from Mike Brown sees Nathan Earle gather the ball 25 metres from the Chiefs line, and although he is tackled, momentum takes him over the line for his second try of the evening. A successful conversion from Lang and Quins add seven more points to their total, Quins 20 Chiefs 12 on 57 minutes as Ollie Devoto replaces Sam Hill for Chiefs.

Another silly penalty by Quins, which is then marched on a further 10 metres for backchat, sees Chiefs once again kick to the corner. Another change for Chiefs as Kvesic is replaced by Lawday in the back row and Matt Luamanu replaces Ben Glynn and Cadan Murley replaces Gabriel Ibitoye for Quins. Chiefs lose the lineout but another penalty, this time against Chisholm allows Chiefs to once again kick to the corner. Chiefs move the ball quickly from the line out, and with almost his first touch of the ball, Devoto is driven over the Quins line. After some deliberation the try is awarded and Steenson adds the extra points closing the gap once again to the single point. After treatment as he emerged from under the pile of bodies, James Lang has to leave the field of play to be replaced by Marcus Smith.

Boyce and Swainston replace Marler and Sinckler respectively before the restart. A few minutes later Marcus Smith moves the Quins total on by another three points as Chiefs are penalised, just starting to believe that Quins can win this game, Quins 23 Chiefs 19 with 13 minutes left to play. More Chiefs replacements, then a great steal by Alex Dombrandt sees him charge up the middle of the field, the ball is kicked on  and Chiefs manage to safely touch the ball down in their own in goal area. Quins totally dominant now as the support from the crowd urges them on and the scrum results in Quins being held up over the Chiefs line.

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DC prepares for a box kick

Six minutes to go and another Quins attack breaks down when the ball is spilled in the tackle but two minutes later following another line break by Saili, Care chips the ball through for Joe Marchant to gather and score Quins fourth try of the evening. The conversion attempt from Smith wide out is unsuccessful, but Quins have a nine point advantage with just four minutes remaining. Now all Quins have to do is slow down the tempo and eke out the remaining minutes of the game but they continue to throw the ball around resulting in a very straightforward intercept by Chiefs number thirteen Ian Whitten. Head in hands time as the conversion by Steenson brings Chiefs to within two points of the Quins scoreline with around a minute left on the clock. With time ticking by Quins are awarded a scrum, and with the crowd counting down, the ball is safely hoisted into the east stand. Final score Quins 28 Exeter Chiefs 26.

Well well well, welcome back Harlequins, the sort of performance that has been missing for the last two or three (or more?) seasons. Gussy said before the game that the squad had been working on attack during the week after they had dominated large parts of the game last week but had been unable to convert that into points. Whatever it was they did, it certainly worked with players running clever lines instead of simply shipping the ball along a flat attacking line. Some really standout individual performances but more importantly was the input by the whole team. The defence harried Chiefs whenever they had the ball and deprived them of any space while the Quins attack ran clever lines throughout. Now that he has had a run of a few games we are now reaping the benefits of the class act who is Francis Saili, he almost seems to break the oppositions line at will and always gets his hands free and looks to offload the ball.

Saili was my Man Of The Match although it is difficult to argue with the BT Sport nominee Alex Dombrandt who continues to impress with more and more game time. The back row combination of Chisholm, Clifford and Dombrandt is very effective so it should be quite interesting when Chris Robshaw becomes available for selection. The second row worked well with George Merrick at long last showing some of the form from before his injury and lay off and the front row were pretty dominant throughout, definitely very happy to see Dave Ward at hooker now he seems to have sorted out his line out issues. Very impressed with all of the backs with particularly good performances from Mike Brown Nathan Earle, Joe Marchant and Saili. Our two young fly halves can only getter better and it good to see young wingers stepping up to the mark.

Biggest disappointment of the evening was the loose pass from Marcus Smith at the end allowing Chiefs to leave with two undeserved points, we really need to learn the art of closing out a game. The supporters also played their part, the hijacking of the Tomahawk Chop is always amusing, I often wonder what it sounds like to the players on the pitch. Hopefully this is not another false dawn, meanwhile just enjoy this score line:

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Re: Match Report: Harlequins vs Exeter
« Reply #1 on: Friday 07-Dec-2018, 10:05* »
What a night that was! Thanks.


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Re: Match Report: Harlequins vs Exeter
« Reply #2 on: Friday 14-Dec-2018, 12:56* »
Thanks for the write-up. (Sorry it's taken me so long to read and comment!)

It was indeed a marvellous night. Hopefully we can put on a performance like that tomorrow against Trevisio.



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