Sunday, 1st December 2019 @ 15:00
On a cold, windy afternoon at The Stoop, it was Harlequins who claimed the spoils, with a passionate 23-19 victory over an impressive Gloucester side.
After six minutes, Gloucester looked set to cross the line but excellent defending from Danny Care just metres short of the line forced the away side out into touch and gave Quins possession. From the resulting penalty, long kick specialist James Lang booted the ball out of the Quins half and into touch to alleviate the pressure.
Two minutes later, Quins took the lead through the boot of Marcus Smith, who slotted home the penalty to give Quins a 3-0 advantage.
On the 14-minute mark, Gloucester winger Ollie Thorley broke through the Quins defence to touch down under the posts, followed up by Cipriani’s conversion to give the away side a 3-7 lead after a spell of end-to-end rugby.
Just after 20 minutes however, an emphatic response from Quins, with Ross Chisholm weaving his way, from outside of the opposition 22m line, through the Gloucester backline for the try. The try, combined with Marcus Smith’s conversion brought Harlequins back into the lead, 10-7.
Five minutes later the visitors responded as number 11 Thorley added his second of the game in the corner. Cipriani’s kick struck the posts, to the relief of the home crowd, as the score remained 10-12 to Gloucester.
Both sides started the second half strongly, with real intent, but it was Quins that claimed the opening points, with Marcus Smith securing a long-range penalty kick to give the home side a one-point lead after 46 minutes, 13-12.
With 25 minutes to go, the rain arrived in South-West London and brought with it the natural challenges for any rugby match. Moments later the visitors were back in the lead as Gloucester captain Ben Morgan drove his way through to the line, giving them a 13-19 lead after the successful conversion.
Gustard’s Quins, true to fashion, weren’t to be put down and responded almost instantly with a delightful attack set up from the lineout. Marcus Smith beautifully offloaded the ball to Alex Dombrandt who powered the ball over the line. Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys consulted the TMO but the try was awarded to the number eight. Smith added the two to put Quins back in control with a 20-19 lead, with less than 20 minutes remaining.
The wind played its part in putting off Billy Twelvetrees in attempting to add the three with less than ten minutes to go, knocking the ball off the tee, but even with the support of a teammate he couldn’t convert the penalty and Quins retained the slender lead.
The final minutes of the game saw Quins push back Gloucester onto their own line and some brilliant tackling finally was rewarded after the hooter, with a Marcus Smith penalty to close out the match to huge cheers across The Stoop.
Harlequins face a trip to Ulster next weekend in the Heineken Champions Cup, before returning to The Stoop on Friday 13th December to face Ulster under the Friday night lights. Tickets are available at tickets.quins.co.uk