Quins battle bravely but Woodman steals it for Gloucester
2 September 2002 10:11am
A try from England prop Trevor Woodman with just two minutes left to play gave Gloucester a victory by 25-19 over NEC Harlequins in the opening game of the 2002/03 Zurich Premiership season. Quins built up a 10-0 lead in the first half, but the visitors scored 18 unanswered points to lead 18-10 at half-time. Two Paul Burke penalties and a drop goal, six minutes before the end, put Quins on course for a victory before Woodman sprinted clear to score under the posts for his sides third try of the game.
It was Gloucester who threatened to open the scoring with two minutes on the clock. A break from winger James Simpson-Daniel down the left and some good handling from backs and forward took play deep inside the Quins twenty-two. With the home side penalised, Gloucester fly half Henry Paul turned down the opportunity of three points and opted to find touch just metres from the Quins line. However, Alex Codling stole possession at the lineout, allowing Matthew Powell to clear.
An Olivier Azam put-in at a lineout was then adjudged not straight by referee Steve Lander, giving Quins a scrum inside the Gloucester twenty-two. The hosts took advantage of the attacking position as Powell and Burke combined to set-up Matt Moore, giving the winger a clear run to the line for a cracking try under the posts. Burke had no trouble with the conversion to give Quins a 7-0 lead after ten minutes.
Quins continued to attack and were awarded a penalty after the visitors were guilty of holding on in the tackle. At the same time, Gloucester lock forward Mark Cornwell was sent to the sin-bin and Burke made no mistake in adding the three points to the Quins total. Despite being a man down, Gloucester scored their first points of the game after 26 minutes when Paul converted a penalty, with Quins guilty of being offside.
Cornwell returned and Gloucester continued to threaten the Quins line, with the pressure finally telling after 31 minutes. Paul failed to make the most of an overlap on the left, though Gloucester managed to retain possession. Will Greenwood came close to an interception, but winger Marcel Garvey picked-up the ball and danced his way past a number of tackles to race clear and score under the posts. Paul added the two extra points on offer to draw the scores level (10-10).
Five minutes later and Ben Gollings was forced to carry the ball in to touch deep inside his own twenty-two following a good kick from Robert Todd. Winning the lineout, the Gloucester pack drove towards the line and number eight Junior Paramore went over for the try. Paul failed to convert, but made amends by kicking his second penalty of the game in first half injury time after Quins were adjudged offside at a scrum, making the score 18-10 in Gloucester's favour at the interval.
Straight from the restart and Quins cut the deficit down to five points. Nathan Williams, making his Premiership debut for Quins at full back, kicked ahead and Gollings gathered possession in front of Garvey. Had the winger seen Chris Bell and Pat Sanderson on his inside then Quins would surely have scored their second try of the game. Instead they had to settle for three points as the Gloucester defence were offside in attempting to get back to cover the danger. Burke's second penalty of the match made the score 13-18 with 41 minutes played.
Ludovic Mercier, a replacement for Garvey, then failed to cancel out Burke's penalty as his drop goal attempt sailed wide following a sustained period of pressure from the visitors. Gloucester continued to attack but could not find a way through the Quins defence and it was the hosts who put the next points on the board after 64 minutes.
Chris Bell went bursting through a gap in the midfield and found Moore on the right, though the winger was tackled metres from the line. Possession was turned over allowing Mercier to clear, but Moore gathered the clearance kick and took play back to the Gloucester twenty-two. The visitors were offside yet again and Burke made the score 16-18.
A cruel bounce then denied Gollings from gathering his own kick and racing clear for a try, but with six minutes left Quins took the lead once again. Ace Tiatia and Greenwood made telling breaks to take play up to the Gloucester line, before the ball went to Burke and the fly half calmly slotted a drop goal to move Quins in front by a point (19-18).
Then came Gloucester's winning score. Quins lost their own lineout on the halfway line and Jake Boer drove play forward, causing panic in the home sides defence. After retaining possession through various phases of play, Woodman managed to break a challenge from Laurent Gomez and had the pace to run in unopposed for a try under the posts, which Mercier converted to put Gloucester six points in front (25-19).
Quins came close to stealing victory at the death after Gollings put a penalty in to touch deep in the Gloucester twenty-two. Keith Wood took the ball from the lineout and went on a trademark rampaging run, but was tackled just short of the line. Diprose and Burke went close but the Gloucester defence held out ensuring they came away with the victory and the four points.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.