Harlequins fightback falls short in loss to London Irish

Saturday, 2nd September 2017 @ 19:15

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Harlequins scored three late tries at Twickenham Stadium but could only salvage a try-bonus point in a 39-29 loss in the London Double Header.

Irish were superior in the opening half as they took a 21-10 lead into the break, a Joe Marchant try, and five points from the boot of debutant to Marcus Smith, the only scores for the visitors.

The newly promoted Irish extended their lead further in the second spell as poor handling and penalties cost John Kingston’s side.

Playing the much of the second half reduced to 14 men after two yellow cards, a spirited fightback saw Marland Yarde, Danny Care and Charlie Walker all score late and put them in position to either win, or pick up two bonus points, but a try at the death to scrum-half Brendan McKibbin put the nail in the coffin as Irish held on to win 39-29.

Earlier, Harlequins crossed the A316 as they arrives at their second home, Twickenham Stadium. A perfect pre-season, and only one loss in their previous ten visits to HQ, saw them enter the match as favourites but their Reading rivals immediately showed why they were crowned champions in the Greene King IPA Championship last season.

Suffocating defence and intelligent decision making set Tommy Bell up with two penalties within the opening ten minutes, before the 18-year-old Smith pulled one back for Quins.

Harlequins worked themselves back into the encounter but they were hit on the break through Fergus Mulchrone before Topsy Ojo provided the inside option to go over in the 25th minute.

The try was converted for a 13-3 lead and only a few minutes later they were over again following a dazzling offload from flanker Blair Cowan. This time Bell was on hand to complete the move as the hosts stormed out to a 18-3 advantage.

Harlequins would hit back quickly this time as Smith found his experienced inside centre Jamie Roberts who popped the ball to Joe Marchant to race over and score. With a hint of a forward pass, the Brighton College graduate drop kicked the conversion quickly to take the TMO out of play and close the gap to 18-10.

Bell would widen the gap before the half-time whistle with a long-range penalty as Irish went into the break with a deserved 21-10 lead.

Quins started the second spell brighter than the first and looked to get on the front foot following a Rob Buchanan turnover, before Referee Tom Foley whistled for a penalty.

In the 50th minute Smith was on the receiving end of a hard-hitting tackle and went off to be treated for an HIA. He was replaced by fellow fly-half debutant Demetri Catrakilis who was quickly shown a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown by Quins.

With the man advantage, Irish capaitlised with a penalty and a third try, to Ofisa Treviranus, as Quins failed to create any momentum.

With the scoreboard reading 29-10, and only 15 minutes to play, things finally began to click for Twickenham outfit. Playing with some territory at last Danny Care went blind from the rolling maul and Marland Yarde was on hand to dart over and score.

Care soon grabbed one of his own before a second yellow card, this time to Mike Brown for an off the ball obstruction, looked to deflate the Quins side. Bell kicked the goal to take his personal tally to 22 points for the afternoon while his side led 32-22.

With only two minutes to pay Quins again bounced back as Charlie Walker completed Yarde’s break, and following the conversion the match was back on. Trailing by three and with the ball in hand, albeit in their own half, the Stoop faithful dared to dream.

With the try bonus point secured and a potential losing bonus in hand, Harlequins were looking for even more. But as they attacked from their own half a loose ball found its way into the hands of Brendan McKibbin who dove over the line to hand his side a memorable 39-29 win in their first match back in the Aviva Premiership.

A disappointing loss for John Kingston and his side who head back to The Stoop next Saturday to take on a Gloucester outfit that will be buzzing from an opening victory over champions Exeter Chiefs.

Tickets for Harlequins' match with Gloucester Rugby at The Stoop are available to purchase online or by calling the Harlequins Ticket Office on 020 8410 6010

Team line Ups

Gallagher Premiership

League Table 2017-18

22 17 0 5 618 354 79 42 13 4 85
22 16 0 6 731 350 89 40 10 3 77
22 14 1 7 615 501 79 61 10 3 71
22 14 0 8 455 506 55 60 7 0 63
22 13 0 9 537 472 61 55 5 6 63
22 11 0 11 572 531 63 68 8 4 56
22 11 1 10 490 597 65 73 8 2 56
22 10 0 12 556 531 67 60 9 5 54
22 8 0 14 509 645 64 80 5 6 43
22 7 0 15 479 640 58 78 5 3 36
22 7 0 15 432 601 54 74 5 3 36
22 3 0 19 385 651 42 85 3 7 22