23 May 13
Harlequins confirmed today (23rd May) that Chris Brooker is leaving the club to join Worcester Warriors.
The conditions were terrible on the night for both sides with unrelenting rain and a sodden pitch which deteriorated progressively throughout the match, complete with a number of patches of surface water. Within ten minutes Biarritz's white shirts were brown with mud and throughout the match players from both teams were using the puddles to clean their hands.
Despite that, Harlequins worked hard to play their style of rugby with ball in hand, particularly in the first half, ensuring they played in the right areas. As the conditions deteriorated they were patient, which paid off putting them on course to be top seeds for the knock out stages.
The first score of the match came from Biarritz in the eleventh minute after Harlequins were penalised for going in at the side. Scrum half Dimitri Yachvili put his side ahead with an easy kick after missing a penalty five minutes previously.
Harlequins' first chance to score came in the 15th minute when they were awarded a penalty which Man of the Match Nick Evans, who didn't miss a kick all night, easily converted to level the scores at 3-3. Their first penalty of the match hadn't been awarded until the 14th minute when Evans kicked into touch to gain some ground in the difficult conditions. There followed a period of rugby that saw Harlequins play their preferred style of rugby as much as the rain and pitch would allow.
This paid off, and in the 29th minute the visitors produced a move straight from the pitches of Surrey Sports Park as Tom Guest peeled off the back of a lineout and drove five metres single handedly to the line to score the only try of the match. Evans duly converted to give Harlequins a 10-3 lead at the break.
Temperatures off the pitch were plummeting, but on the field a few hot heads saw Joe Marler and Biarritz's Wenceslas Lauret sent to the sin bin in the 36th minute. This brought a tactical change for the Harlequins' scrum with Maurie Fa'asavalu being replaced by Mark Lambert and Jordan Turner-Hall on his 150th appearance for the club, join the scrum.
The second half brought clean shirts for both teams and within five minutes of the restart Yachvili had brought his side to within four points with a penalty. Eight minutes later they were awarded another penalty which was duly converted to take the score to 10-9.
Two minutes later though, Harlequins extended their lead after the hosts were penalised for not holding on. They showed their intent and opted for the kick which was just within Evans' range. The ball bounced over off the horizontal bar, taking the score to 13-9 to Harlequins.
With the pitch increasingly resembling a quagmire due to the rain, the squelch of mud could be heard high in the stands and the visitors had to remain patient. A penalty to Biarritz, awarded in the 62nd minute, was missed and as kicks were fired backwards and forwards from both sides Harlequins' patience paid off and they gained the ground to ensure their positioning in their opponent's half.
They extended their lead and took the game away from Biarritz in the 73rd minute after the hosts were penalised. Evans converted for the final points of the game and secured a 16-9 victory to put his team in the driving seat of this tournament.
As the minutes ebbed away the travelling Harlequins supporters increased their volume, drowning out their hosts' brass band and drums to send their team off the pitch to the changing rooms with 'Mighty Quin' ringing in their ears.
Details for tickets to the home quarter-final will be announced in due course.
|Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque Score Card|
|Harlequins Score Card|