Harlequins survive late scare to topple Gloucester

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Harlequins held out following a late bout of pressure from the home side to record a big victory in the chase for the top four playoff spots. A first half riddled with mistakes cost both sides any real momentum, but a steady second half earned Quins the points. Last Word on Rugby reporter Robert Rees brings you his view from Gloucester v Harlequins.

Gloucester take first half despite mistakes

It was Gloucester who would start off the game the best courtesy of a Tim Visser moment of madness, launching the ball back inside and gifting the Cherry and Whites easy 22 ball. It didn’t come to fruition and Quins then started an attack of their own following some Gloucester ill discipline.

Gloucester’s defence held strong and cleared. Both teams were looking at putting ball through hand, but mistakes out wide ended any hope of points.

It was to be Gloucester who opened their account first, a great break by Jake Polledri to send Danny Cipriani over for the try. Slotting the conversion just wide, Gloucester lead 5-0.

The Kingsholm crowd’s delight was short lived though, a frantic attack from Gloucester coughed up ball and allowed Nathan Earle to sprint home for the equaliser. The travelling support only had to wait a minute for their next score.

The manic and the magic

Earle popped up again following a sublime break from Danny Care and Joe Marchant in midfield. Calmly converted by James Lang. 5-12 to the visitors.

The penalties started flooding in over the next few attacks. Quins diving offside allowing Gloucester to sustain some pressure from driving lineouts. The Harlequins defence stood strong against the try, but conceded a penalty which Cipriani duly obliged to convert. 8-12.

Harlequins had a chance to wipe those three points off the board, but Lang’s penalty was poorly pulled wide of the posts. Gloucester well on top, but not creating any golden chances.

An accumulation of yet more ill discipline from the Quins team saw Matt Symons receive a yellow card for his troubles. Gloucester punished them and went one behind at 11-12.

The game was turning scrappy and needed as moment of magic to alleviate the tension amongst players and crowd alike.

It came through a second row forward making a clean break. Something as rare as a lunar eclipse. Ed Slater with a barnstorming run to set up a Charlie Sharples try underneath the posts, via Ben Vellacott.

A great move that regained Gloucester their lead that they hadn’t held for nearly 25mins. It was to be Quins who got the last laugh of the half with a penalty, gifted to them by the Gloucester captain.

Half Time; Gloucester 18-15 Harlequins

Harlequins lead the charge at the start of the second half, fly half James Lang converting an early penalty to make it 18 a piece. Gloucester started to get a foothold in the game, but could only find a stern Quins defence to hold them out.

Harlequins were looking the more dangerous and started cutting out the mistakes of the first half and creating chances. An excellent clearing kick skimming across the turf and into touch laying the platform for what would be their next three points. 21-18 to the visitors.

Quins started to slam the Gloucester defence, but could find no holes. Their crusade on the Kingsholm tryline ending with just another penalty, Marcus Smith on as a substitute converting.

Gloucester knew they had to fire up soon or risk being out of the game. A brilliant move lead by Ben Vellacott and Danny Cipriani, sublimely finished by Charlie Sharples, his second of the day.

Cipriani converted to give Gloucester just a one point lead over their fellow top four chasing rivals.

There was to be late drama as a Marcus Smith penalty rocked the upright, a gush of wind swooping through Kingsholm as the crowd breathed in relief. That relief was only to be withheld for a few minutes.

A huge Quins scrum sent the Gloucester pack into reverse and the penalty was slotted over by Smith. Only a fragile lead, but one that Gloucester could ill afford to let them keep.

Gloucester did mount one last charge at the tryline, but found only the stern defence and a touchline, which ultimately ended the game.

Full Time

Gloucester 25-27 Harlequins

Attendance: 13, 232

Referee: JP Doyle

Kick off: 3pm

Gloucester: Josh Hohneck, James Hanson, Fraser Balmain, Ed Slater cpt., Gerbrandt Grobler, Jake Polledri, Lewis Ludlow, Ben Morgan, Ben Vellacott, Danny Cipriani, Matt Banahan, Mark Atkinson, Henry Trinder, Charlie Sharples, Tom Hudson. Replacements: Franco Marais, Alex Seville, Ciaran Knight, Freddie Clarke, Gareth Evans, Callum Braley, Billy Twelvetrees, Jason Woodward.

Harlequins: Joe Marler, Max Crumpton, Kyle Sinckler, Matt Symons, James Horwill co-cpt., Renaldo Bothma, Chris Robshaw co-cpt., James Chisholm, James Lang, Tim Visser, Ben Tapuai, Joe Marchant, Nathan Earle, Mike Brown. Replacements: Dave Ward, Lewis Boyce, Will Collier, Stan South, Semi Kunatani, Charlie Mulchrone, Marcus Smith, Aaron Morris.

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