Quins stun leaders Chiefs in pulsating contest. 2nd December 2018


30th November 2018

                                 HARLEQUINS   28     EXETER CHIEFS  26

                          Gallagher Premiership   Friday 30th November 2018

                                 Peter Moore at The Stoop

Harlequins became the first team this season to beat Exeter in the Gallagher Premiership after completing a 28-26 victory over the Chiefs in a pulsating contest. Two moments of clinical finishing from Nathan Earle lifted Quins into the top four and stunned leaders Exeter.

Kyle Sinckler returned to the Harlequins starting line up after his MOM performance against Australia. He re joined the front row alongside Joe Marler and Dave Ward.

Quins welcomed back Gabriel Ibitoye from injury, with Danny Care and James Lang the half-back pairing.

Harlequins were looking to become the first side to defeat Exeter in the Premiership this season, but the omens weren’t on the side of the South West London side. Chiefs had only lost one game in any competition all season- a 29-25 loss to Castres in the European Champions Cup. The West Country side also boasted a 100 per cent record in the Premiership, having won all eight games this season. Chiefs, had also only lost once away in the Premiership since February, and had won on their last eight occasions against Harlequins.

The hosts were forced into a late change when Matt Symons was replaced by Ben Glynn, with Mat Luamanu named as a game changer in a game officially sold out.

The first points of the game went to Harlequins when Chiefs collapsed at the scrum. James Lang slotted over to give the hots the early advantage. Chiefs hit back after a string of penalties conceded by Quins saw a line out in the corner with Exeter’s Matt Kvesic doting down following a strong driving maul. Quins re took the lead following a line out at close range with Captain James Chisholm gathering the ball and racing around the outside to score. The conversion from Lang cannoned of the post with the hosts holding a narrow three point lead. On the stroke of half time Quins increased their advantage with a free flowing move that ended with Joe Marchant offloading to Nathan Earle who crossed in the corner. Despite the conversion missed, Harlequins were 40 minutes away from being the first side to beat Exeter in the Premiership this season, as they held a 13-5 lead going into the break.

Exeter closed the gap to just a single point following a line out with another huge driving maul with Jack Yeandle crashing over. The conversion from Joe Simmonds was successful with the visitors trailing 13-12.  Quins quickly hit back with a Mike Brown grubber kick which found Earle who scrambled over for his second try of the night. Minutes later Chiefs once again made it a single point game, following a line out Ollie Devoto managed to get the ball down, with the try being awarded after consultation with the TMO.

Game Changer Marcus Smith was sent on and immediately was involved in the action when he kicked a penalty over the posts to send Quins into a four point cushion with just over ten minutes remaining.

There was still time for more late drama at the Stoop. In the 76th minute Harlequins added their third try of the night thanks to a delightful Danny Care grubber kick which fell nicely for Joe Marchant to go over for the try bonus point. With Quins 28-19 up the game looked over, only for Chiefs to make the home fans sweat as a loose pass was gathered by Ian Whitten in the 79th minute to give Chiefs the consolation of a try bonus point and a losing point. The conversion was added with Chiefs narrowing the gap to one point. With 80 minutes on the clock Harlequins turned the ball over to end a pulsating contest, and a thoroughly deserved victory against the previously undefeated leaders.





Pic: Peter Moore
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