Sunday, 28th September 2014 @ 18:00
Harlequins suffered another heavy defeat in the early stages of the Aviva Premiership, succumbing to a 36-13 defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
The visitors were their own worst enemies at times, struggling to maintain possession and territory throughout the match. By contrast, Exeter were far more clinical and threatening, taking their opportunities and converting them.
Tries from Thomas Waldrom, Jack Yeandle and Henry Slade put Harlequins out of sight and they were unlucky not to finish the match with a full five point haul.
Harlequins will look to turn their form around when Premiership new comers London Welsh visit The Stoop on Saturday.
Despite Ben Botica opening for the visitors, Slade and Gareth Steenson shared the spoils with impressive kicking displays; Thomas Waldrom crossed the whitewash giving Chiefs a 19-6 lead at the break.
Harlequins were inspired by an Ollie Lindsay-Hague dart early in the second-half which led to Aseli Tikoirotuma’s first try for the club. With the game in their control and with only a six point deficit, Harlequins handed the match back to Chiefs.
Steenson kept the scoreboard ticking with another penalty and despite Jack Nowell being sent to the sin-bin, captain Yeandle scored.
With three minutes remaining Slade completed his points tally with Exeter's third try to seal the convincing victory.
The conditions in Exeter suited both sides; a clear day at the newly developed and impressive Sandy Park favoured free flowing and attacking rugby.
Harlequins took an early lead from a long range Ben Botica penalty, but the scores were tied in the 11th minute as centre Slade converted from 48 metres out.
Harlequins were forced into some early changes when centre Harry Sloan limped off after 16 minutes. This moved Tikoirotuma into the centres and Lindsay-Hague off the bench to the wing.
Before this switch, Gareth Steenson had kicked a second penalty for the hosts, but it was Waldrom’s try in the 23rd minute that allowed the Chiefs to break clear. Dave Ward had brilliantly stolen a lineout within the Chiefs 22, but in the following phase, Botica’s clearance was charged down by second-row Mitch Lees.
Waldrom hacked forward, gathered possession and scored. The conversion by Steenson was successful.
In the closing stages of the half, Harlequins began to implement their offloading game, but unforced errors and ill-discipline shut their momentum down. After hitting the post with an earlier attempt, Botica converted a second penalty on the half hour.
In the final four minutes of the half, Harlequins conceded two soft penalties, the first when Marland Yarde played on after being held in a tackle and the second when Danny Care was holding the ball on the floor. Slade and Steenson shared the points as the Chiefs took a 19-6 half time lead.
Harlequins were sparked into life with a sensational Lindsay-Hague break early in the second half. Botica, who had started the move from a Chiefs clearance kick, found Marland Yarde who ran into the 22.
Despite Tikoirotuma knocking the ball on, Harlequins won a penalty from the resulting scrum and the Fijian winger scored his debut try at the second time of asking. Botica’s conversion reduced the gap to six points on 47 minutes.
It was at this point Harlequins had a hold on the match and after Steenson added his fourth penalty, Nowell was show yellow for taking Mike Brown out when competing for a cross field kick.
Despite the deficit, it was the same play that would lead to the Chiefs’ third try. Steenson’s vision found Phil Dollman, where Nowell should have been, on the right touchline. Passing inside to Yeandle, the captain bundled over and the conversion extended the lead to 29-13.
In the closing stages, after Mike Brown was taken off following his earlier clash with Nowell, Chiefs returned to 15 men. Attacking inside the 22, Slade capitalised on a huge overlap on the right wing to complete his, and the Chiefs’, impressive display.
Harlequins face London Welsh at The Stoop next Saturday. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 020 8410 6000.