Match Reports

Exeter Braves defeat Harlequins ‘A’

Monday, 4th January 2016 @ 21:40

Harlequins’ unbeaten run in the Aviva ‘A’ League came to an end at the hands of Exeter Braves on Monday evening.

A first half try from winger Byron McGuigan helped the Braves to an 8-3 half time lead, a score which would remain until a 77th minute Joe Simmonds penalty. In the 79th minute, McGuigan completed his brace give Exeter the 18-3 victory.

Both sides entered the match with admirable form; Harlequins unbeaten in their three previous fixtures, with Exeter only losing to Saracens Storm. It was a frustrating display by both sides as numerous handling errors occurred during a very stop start affair at Sandy Park.

With light rain to negotiate during the first half, it was a tough half for Harlequins who gifted Exeter  territory in the opening moments by failing to gather the kick-off. Despite holding off the Exeter attack on multiple occasions, the hosts were gifted possession through Harlequins errors.

A monstrous clearance by Tim Swiel from his 22 saw the ball go dead and from the resulting scrum, the Braves worked the phases. A perfectly weighted cross field kick from Simmonds found the hands of McGuigan on the left wing; negotiating his way past Robbie Nairn, he opened the scoring.

Harlequins put some neat phases of play together midway through the first half as Harry Sloan and Matt Hopper provided good forward momentum. The visitors however were unable to consistently retain possession as the errors continued.

Simmonds was able to extend the Braves’ lead after the half hour mark with a penalty, punishing the Londoners for pulling down their dominant rolling maul.

Harlequins did end the half strongly however. Winning a penalty on halfway, Karl Dickson’s quick tap injected some pace as he worked up field. A half-break from Sloan got Quins into the 22 and after crossing the line, Botica’s final pass to Hopper was ruled forward. With the referee playing a penalty advantage, Botica converted his shot on goal to end the half at 8-3.

 Harlequins started the second half brightly, enjoying a wealth of possession in Exeter’s 22. Kyle Sinckler, who replaced Will Collier at the break, was taken off after coming second best in a huge collision. After a lengthy injury lay off, play restarted with a scrum, one that Quins won a penalty from.

Kicking to the corner Harlequins worked the short phases tirelessly before Botica’s chip over the rushed defence was gathered easily, allowing Exeter to clear with a dropout.

Harlequins continued to go forward and as the hour mark passed, Sam Aspland-Robinson was prevented a score on the left wing due to another final pass drifting forward.

With numerous stoppages in the second half, it was difficult for either side to gather momentum. It took until the 77th minute for Simmonds to get the first points of the second half with a penalty, before McGuigan completed his brace.

Pouncing on loose ball in the midfield, which appeared to have been knocked-on by an Exeter hand, McGuigan ran clear and with Simmonds’ conversion Exeter completed the 18-3 victory.