Saturday, 28th September 2019 @ 15:00
Heading into the final 15 minutes, both sides were level at 18-18 but Brett Herron remained calm and considered to slot the ball through the posts on the 78th minute to seal the victory.
It was a strong early start for Quins, with speedy winger Gabriel Ibitoye passing out to fellow winger Cadan Murley who fed the ball into the hands of centre James Lang to cross the line after only one minute of the match, giving Harlequins a nearly immediate 0-5 lead.
Despite relentless attacking play from Irish following Quins’ opener, the early stages of the first half saw Quins produce a strong defensive display to keep Irish out.
Harlequins were reduced to 13 men for part of the first half, with Kerrod being sent to the bin after 12 minutes and two minutes later, Stephan Lewies joined him.
The Quins defence held up well despite the lack of players on the pitch, with Irish driving over the line, but the try didn’t stand.
Herron slotted through the posts to take the score to 7-8 on 21 minutes after a lovely attacking set from Quins resulted in the penalty. Before too long, Harlequins were back up to the full 15 with Kerrod and Lewies back on.
After 27 minutes, the Quins defence proved strong again, with a try-saving tackle in the corner, but the resulting lineout ended up in London Irish hooker Saia Fainga’a scoring for the home side. Paddy Jackson missed the kick, 12-8 to the Exiles.
With only five minutes left of the first half, Paddy Jackson slotted a penalty through the posts, bringing the score to 15-8 for the home side.
Just before half time, Jack Clifford’s 100th cap for the Club came to an end, coming off injured.
The second half continued with the same high intensity from both sides, but Irish were reduced to 14 men less than five minutes into the half.
There was a new-look back-line for Harlequins in the early stages of the second, half, with Ross Chisholm replacing Cadan Murley before James Lang came off for an HIA assessment. Aaron Morris slotted in to 13, with R. Chisholm at 15 and debutant Travis Ismaiel on the wing at 14.
It wasn’t long before Quins crossed the line again, this time with Gabriel Ibitoye showing off his impressive speed and footwork following Alex Dombrandt’s offload, closing the gap to 15-13 after 54 minutes.
A Paddy Jackson penalty put Irish back in the lead on the 61st minute but 5 minutes later, South African winger Ismaiel lured in the defence, distributing the ball to Ibitoye who gained ground before being stopped short. The ball found the hands of Alex Dombrandt who brought the scores level at 18-18, crossing the line.
In a potentially game-saving moment, London Irish winger Ollie Hassell-Collins seemed set to pace his way through to score a late try, but an incredible tackle from Ross Chisholm forced Irish to spill the ball.
Harlequins managed to seal the victory following a 78th minute penalty from Herron, resulting in an 18-21 win for the side’s second match in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
Listen to the thoughts of Head of Rugby Paul Gustard here.
Quins are back in action on Saturday 5 October for the Club’s double header fixture, facing Gloucester Rugby, followed by Harlequins Women taking on Gloucester-Hartpury at The Stoop. Tickets are still available at tickets.quins.co.uk