Sunday, 1st January 2017 @ 18:00
A late Alofa Alofa try and Tim Swiel penalty secured Harlequins a losing bonus point as their away struggles continued in a 24-17 loss to Worcester Warriors.
Harlequins were held scoreless in the first half as a Dean Hammond try and 11 points from the boot of Ryan Mills saw the hosts go into the break 16-0 ahead.
Penalties and mistakes would continue to cost Quins in the second spell before they finally clicked into gear on the hour mark. Tries to Charlie Matthews and Alofa Alofa closed the gap to 24-14 before Tim Swiel kicked a penalty after time had expired.
It was not the result John Kingston’s side was looking for to start the New Year but they will be happy to take home a point after being outplayed for much of the match.
Earlier Harlequins travelled to Sixways Stadium following their dramatic 28-24 win in front of 77,567 supporters at Big Game 9 on Tuesday evening.
In Worcester they were met with chilly conditions and a chillier crowd who were desperate to help their side out of a possible relegation battle with Bristol Rugby.
In the first half it was all Worcester as they dominated possession and territory and remained largely mistake free as well. The visitors on the other hand were guilty of making handling errors as well as turning over the ball with costly free kicks and penalties.
By the 25th minute the home side were rewarded with a 13-0 lead thanks to a Hammond try in the left corner as well as two Mills penalties. Harlequins struggling to secure consistent possession in the opposition half.
Eventually the Londoners would find themselves in the attacking 22, but Worcester’s resolute defence held up against numerous goal line attacks as Harlequins turned down kickable penalties to go for the corner.
Before half-time each side would see a yellow card in a hugely physical encounter. First Darren Barry for a professional foul near his own line, prior to Joe Marler joining him in the sin bin for a high tackle. The latter helping Worcester to extend their lead to 16-0 at the break.
The second half went from bad to worse for Harlequins as Ben Te’o powered over within the opening minutes to stretch the lead to 21-0. This was following a number of knocks to key players that would see Jack Clifford, Chris Robshaw and Jamie Roberts all forced off the field.
With a new look side on the pitch Harlequins finally began to gain some momentum in the final quarter, led by the dynamic Danny Care who looked to increase the tempo with his trademark darting runs. Following a number of quick tap penalites Charlie Matthews found himself across the whitewash to open the scoring for the visitors.
Sensing the opportunity to get something out of the match Harlequins became freer with the ball and went close after a number of breaks – but they couldn’t find the final pass nor the second score. Instead Mills extended the lead to 24-7 with a penalty at the other end of the field.
With only five minutes remaining Mike Brown, a stand out defensively all match, made an attacking break that would set his side up for a crucial score. Quick ball from the ruck saw Tim Swiel find Luke Wallace with a long skip pass and the back row offloaded for Alofa to go over in the corner. Swiel adding the extras from the sideline.
Receiving the kick-off deep in their own half Harlequins looked to travel 75 metres down field to secure a losing bonus point with only three minutes left on the clock.
They needed every one of them as a late scrum saw Harlequins rewarded with a penalty after time had expired. Swiel again stepped up, this time from a much easier range, and he kicked the three points.
A 24-17 loss to 11th placed Worcester was not the result Harlequins wanted to start the New Year but there were enough positives from the final quarter to build on ahead of next week’s visit from Sale Sharks - another big Aviva Premiership fixture as Harlequins look to stay in the top six as well as push for a semi-final appearance later in the year.
Tickets for the match on Saturday 7th January are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.