Saturday, 26th November 2016 @ 15:00
A late Tim Swiel penalty helped Harlequins to a 21-20 win over second place Bath as they continued their fantastic form at home.
On top for most of the first half they were unfortunate to only take a one-point lead into the break as a Tim Visser try helped them to an 11-10 lead.
In the second half the lead went back and forth as Karl Dickson and Nathan Catt both crossed. In the 75th minute Tim Swiel would take the lead back for good with a high pressure penalty as Harlequins held on to win 21-20.
The match kicked off with Harlequins sitting in tenth place in a tight lower half of the Aviva Premiership table. Bath on the other hand were flying high in second place after a scintillating start to their season.
Much of the pre match conversation was around Nick Evans (200) and Will Collier (100) who were making milestone appearances for the Club, while Jack Clifford and George Merrick also returned from long-term injuries.
It was Tim Visser, back from international duty that grabbed the headlines first however. Some high tempo rugby from the Harlequins backline saw Visser all alone on the sideline as he crossed for the opening try. Evans would miss the conversion, and was soon permanently replaced by Tim Swiel due to a blood injury, a disappointing end to a momentous day.
The opening quarter was electric with some dazzling attack and some ferocious defence on display. The rival England wingers Semesa Rokudugni and Marland Yarde putting on a show for Eddie Jones, the former with a stunning 50 metre break, and Yarde a menace throughout.
After 20 minutes Bath would close the gap to 5-3 thanks to a scrum penalty before Swiel would answer back with two of his own that gave his side an 11-3 lead. The home side had the majority of the chances and would have been disappointed not to make them count for more.
With only a few minutes left in the half tight head prop Kane Palma-Newport crashed over to close the gap before Visser went close down the other end, meaning Harlequins went into the break with the slenderest of leads at 11-10.
In the second spell Harlequins would fall on the wrong side of the penalty count and Bath would make them pay by retaking the lead 11-13.
It was the Londoners though that were creating chances and playing with more ambition, first through the feet of Swiel, before some fantastic Yarde wing play.
Just inside the Bath half, a lovely delayed pass saw Yarde set James Chisholm free on the wing before he received the pass back, drew in the fullback and set up Dickson for the score and a 18-13 lead.
The lead would barely last five minutes as Bath struck back through prop Nathan Catt and with less than a quarter of an hour to go Harlequins trailed 18-20.
It was a back and forth finishes to the match as Bath had a chance down one end before they knocked on 15 metres out. Quins would win the resulting scrum and clear their lines before winning back-to-back moments later. Tim Swiel lined up the second from 40 metres out and 15 meters infield and he split the goal posts as the Quins crowd roared with approval.
Harlequins led 21-20 but with five minutes to play Bath would still have multiple opportunities to snatch the victory. The Harlequins defence would remain firm as their forward pack, led by Man of the Match Jack Clifford, closed out the match and give them the deserved win.
Harlequins now travel away to Newcastle Falcons in sixth place. With many of the sides above them also winning over the weekend, a victory will be crucial in order to help them maintain their top four ambitions.
Harlequins next return to The Stoop in three weeks time with their European Rugby Challenge Cup match against Timisoara Saracens on Saturday 17th December (kick-off 15:00). Tickets are on sale now, with children’s tickets just £1. Click here to buy now.