Harlequins' season ends in defeat to runaway Exeter Chiefs

Saturday, 5th May 2018 @ 18:15

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Exeter Chiefs scored six tries en route to a final day 17-41 win over Harlequins at The Stoop.

At half-time, Chiefs had wrapped up the bonus point thanks to two Dave Skinner scores and tries apiece from Dave Ewers and the impressive Joe Simmonds.

Harlequins did manage to cross twice in the opening 40, with tries from Marcus Smith and Mike Brown making the scoreboard read 17-24 at the break.

Quins were made to rue missed chances in the second half and a late flurry from Chiefs - thanks to tries from Tom Hendrickson and Alec Hepburn - moved them out of sight.

Earlier, Harlequins arrived at The Stoop with nothing but pride to play for, particularly for outgoing Director of Rugby John Kingston after 17 years of dedication to the Club.

The day started perfectly for the Londoners, who raced into a 7-0 lead in the first minute when young fly-half Smith broke through the Exeter defence to race in near the sticks and convert his own score.

That lead would only last nine minutes, however, when Chiefs crossed from close quarters through Dave Ewers at the scrum. A move earlier, Chiefs had been held up before Rob Baxter's men went blind from the next scrum and the back rower did enough to scramble and score.

Quins didn't let their head drops, and smart play from Danny Care saw play move 50 metres up field with the pick and go. Chiefs knocked-on in the tackle in the next move but Quins couldn't capitalise, and Chiefs cleared.

From there came Chiefs' next score. Ewers turned from scorer to provider for Exeter's second score when his fast feet and hand offs allowed the inside offload to fellow back rower Dave Dennis who got over in a very quick move; a 7-12 lead was there after Simmonds missed the conversion.

A string of penalties close to the 30-minute mark allowed Smith the chance to reduce the deficit and the 19-year-old did from the tee, moving his side to within two points of the reigning Champions.

Chiefs flexed their muscles and established a healthy lead shortly after. Chiefs decided to patiently recycle possession through the forwards before Dennis popped up again to score.

Within minutes, Chiefs had their bonus point score with Quins beginning to drop off the pace. The hosts scrambled with the diminutive Santiago Cordero breaking down the right, going inside with quick ball from White and Ewers before Simmonds collected to score.

The scoreboard read 10-24 with just four minutes left on the clock.

As the half began to wind down, Harlequins had something to hold on to when Mike Brown crossed from a clever Mat Luamanu offload. As Smith sent over his second conversion of the day, Harlequins were just one score behind Chiefs at half-time.

The second half would remain scoreless up until the 68th minute, but that wasn't for the lack of opportunities Harlequins had.

Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and James Lang worked hard all day in defence and as they began to knock back their opponents, Harlequins spilt two good opportunities from close range lineouts.

On a day of goodbyes, Charlie Matthews donned the quarters for the final time against Chiefs. Stan South replaced him on the 54th minute; going off the field to a very well-deserved round of applause.

Chiefs came knocking on the 67th minute, and it looked like Harlequins would hold out but Gareth Steenson's penalty knocked the wind out of the hosts' sails and Rob Baxter's side put their foot on the gas.

Their fifth try came from the rolling maul when Tom Hendrickson wrestled over from a solid Chiefs platform and their sixth came from turnover ball.

Exeter once again opted to go through the forwards - patiently recycling possession - until Alec Hepburn crossed late on.

Following today's result, Harlequins end the season tenth on the Aviva Premiership ladder, while Chiefs will host Newcastle Falcons in the play-offs. 


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