Saturday, 26th October 2019 @ 15:00
Harlequins were able to secure a win on their opening home fixture of the Gallagher Premiership season, beating Bristol 22-17.
Bristol took an early lead after three minutes, slotting through the posts following a penalty from the scrum, with Callum Sheedy securing the three.
The rain certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the supporters at The Stoop for our first home league game of the season, but it clearly had an impact on the pitch on occasions with players slipping and the ball hard to hold on to at times.
And the crowd got behind the side in the opening stages which saw Marcus Smith level the game after 13 minutes, with Bristol penalised for not releasing the ball in contact.
As a result of the conditions, both sides opted to kick throughout the first half, and 16 minutes in, Bristol regained their lead through another Sheedy penalty, 3-6.
10 minutes before the break, Bristol added another three, giving them a six point lead as half time approached, but Quins persevered and Marcus Smith narrowed the gap with less than five minutes remaining of the first half, 6-9.
The sides ended up heading into the break to dry off level at 9-9, after another penalty on the 39th minute.
The rain didn’t ease up in the second half, nor did the penalty count, with Quins taking the lead for the first time in the match after 43 minutes. Marcus Smith took the score to 12-9, with the ball striking the far post on its way through.
On the 52nd minute, Head of Rugby Paul Gustard and his coaching team decided that the time was right to refresh the pack, bringing on three fresh legs in the form of Mark Lambert, Simon Kerrod, and Alex Dombrandt.
Bristol were reduced to 14 men with number eight Nathan Hughes sent to the bin on the 55th minute, following an illegal tackle. And Quins made sure to put pressure on their opponents, running hard at the Bristol defence and enforcing more errors, leading to Quins extending their lead to 15-9 after another Marcus Smith penalty on the 58th minute.
Only a minute later, Quins were penalised by referee Ian Tempest for playing the ball on the ground in the ruck and Sheedy decided to try and narrow the game, successfully converting the penalty and bringing the game to within three points again.
Quins kept the pressure on in the final stages of the match, winning the lineout on Bristol’s five metre line and Landajo producing a beautiful kick to break through the Bristol defence, with Joe Marchant having the legs to touch the ball down, for the first try of the match. Smith’s conversion took the score to 22-12 with only 12 minutes of play remaining.
On the 70th minute, Bristol were quick to respond, with replacement Jake Heenan diving over the line in the far corner, but Sheedy missed the conversion leaving Quins with a 22-17 lead as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
Bristol put up a fight in the final few minutes, piling on immense pressure deep in the Quins half, but Quins held strong and came away with the win.
Up next for Quins is a trip to Northampton Saints on Friday 1st November before returning to The Stoop to face Worcester Warriors on Saturday 9th November. Tickets are still available here.