Harlequins open 2014/15 campaign with victory over London Irish

Saturday, 6th September 2014 @ 17:30

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Harlequins began their 2014/15 Aviva Premiership campaign with a 15-20 victory over London Irish at Twickenham Stadium.

The London Double Header has proved to be a dramatic fixture for Harlequins in recent history and this year was no exception. Despite leading 6-20 at half time thanks to tries from Ugo Monye and Ollie Lindsay-Hague, London Irish raced back to within five points, to leave the fixture on a knife edge in the final moments.

Like the two previous season openers, Harlequins held on for victory and will take many positives from the strong first half performance as they face Saracens at The Stoop next Friday evening.

66,000 people descended on Twickenham Stadium on a day where the conditions were perfect for rugby. Because of this, Harlequins got off to a flying start and after 11 minutes, had taken the match by the scruff of the neck with Monye’s 50th Premiership try and five points from the boot of Nick Evans.

Having won a penalty on halfway and choosing to kick to touch, Harlequins set up a driving maul inside the London Irish 22 on ten minutes. When Danny Care released the ball from the maul, summer signing Marland Yarde ran a dummy line which fixed the defence allowing the ball to be spread wide to find Monye.

The winger’s finishing instinct got him over the whitewash in an impressive dive for the line and Evans’ conversion gave the ‘visitors’ from the Twickenham Stoop a ten point lead.

The defence from the squad was equally impressive during the dominant first half; London Irish failed to enter the Harlequins 22 throughout the first half and were denied from scoring any tries completely.

When Eamonn Sheridan was sin-binned for London Irish for playing the ball on the ground, Harlequins made the most of their numerical advantage.

In the early stages of that sin bin period, Geraghty added to an earlier penalty, but Evans cancelled it out just after the half hour mark.

Working possession within the Irish half, Jordan Turner-Hall halted the defensive line on 35 minutes with a bulldozing carry, this again allowed the ball to be shipped to the left wing, only this time for Lindsay-Hague to score after an impressive dart down the left touchline. The winger had replaced Monye who had hurt himself in the act of scoring the opening try. Evans added the conversion and Harlequins were in control with a 6-20 half time lead.

Momentum shifted in favour of London Irish in the early stages of the second half with two Harlequins sin-binnings in quick succession. Both tackles involved David Paice.

In what was a very physical defensive performance, Joe Marler put a dominant hit on the Irish hooker which was deemed dangerous by referee Greg Garner. In similar fashion, Kyle Sinckler was sin binned moments later when Mr. Garner had deemed the tackle too high in midfield.

This allowed Geraghty to kick two penalties, before closing the gap further on 67 minutes to just five points.

It was in these final moments where the game became a tense and nervy affair for both sides.

Possession changed hands on numerous occasions and when it looked like Lindsay-Hague had sealed victory with his second try on 76 minutes, it was denied by the TMO due to a knock-on from Care in the resulting phase from a clever Mike Brown dart down the wing.

From the resulting scrum, Harlequins won a penalty; Evans had the opportunity to take the lead to eight points and deny the Exiles a losing bonus point, his effort missed rounding off an unusually off day for the former All-Black.

Nick Easter was named man of the match as his record for the most senior professional matches for Harlequins increases with every appearance.

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League Table 2014-15

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