Friday, 3rd January 2020 @ 19:45
Harlequins suffered defeat at the start of the new year at the hands of Sale Sharks, with the home side claiming a 48-10 victory.
After six minutes, Quins sped their way to the line, capitalising on the loose ball with Marcus Smith punting to set Gabs Ibitoye off, with the young winger having the legs to take it all the way and cross the line. Despite a TMO review, the try was awarded and following Smith’s conversion, Quins took an early 0-7 lead.
This was followed up a few minutes later with a penalty to Sharks in front of the post. Rob du Preez slotted it through to bring the scores to 3-7.
Just after 10 minutes, a cheeky pass to change the direction set off Sale hooker Akker van der Merwe who pushed his way through the Quins defence and set the ball down. Rob du Preez’s conversion took the home side into the lead for the first time in the match, 10-7.
Quins started the game quickly, despite conceding early on, and a fast break 18 minutes in nearly saw Cadan Murley flying through to the line, but was tackled into touch by Sale’s last man after a promising attack.
Five minutes later, Sale crossed the line again; this time after picking up the loose ball, kicking into space and winger Byron McGuigan chased the ball down, floored the Quins defender and then offloaded to Sam James who placed it down for the five. Rob du Preez added the two and Sale held a ten-point lead, 17-7.
In a bizarre turn of events, Marcus Smith missed a penalty with 10 minutes left of the first half, but the ball landed on the head of a Sharks player and bounced out of touch. However, the ball was already in the dead zone and Sale had a 22m kick. Quins won a penalty shortly after, with Marcus Smith finding touch to give Quins an attacking line out. The ball found its way back out of play and another 22m kick for the home side.
Quins played ‘free-ball’ having the advantage after Sale were penalised for offside, and after a few more phases of play referee Ian Tempest called it back for the penalty. Marcus Smith added the three just before the break to bring the score to 17-10.
But Sale weren’t done in the first 40, going for the line despite the clock running out and full back Luke James found his way to the line from 25m out, giving Sale a 24-10 lead at the break.
The first points of the second half went to Sale, as du Preez added three points from the penalty on the 49th minute, bringing the score to 27-10. Joe Marler was sent to the sin bin for a scuffle just before the penalty was taken.
Sale extended their lead with less than 15 minutes remaining, to claim their bonus point try as they drove their way over the line from the maul. The try resulted in a further scuffle and saw former Quins player Marland Yarde sent to the bin, alongside Matt Symons. After the drama, Sale converted their try to extend the lead to 34-10.
The hosts crossed the line again, with only eight minutes remaining as Chris Ashton touched down under the posts, taking the score to 41-10 after AJ MacGinty’s conversion.
Sale wrapped up the game with Rohan Janse van Rensburg ran through to the line on the 80th minute, ending the game 48-10.
Quins face Bath in the Heineken Champions Cup on Friday 10 January at The Rec before returning to The Stoop to host ASM Clermont Auvergne on Saturday 18 January. Tickets are still available at tickets.quins.co.uk