Saturday, 7th March 2015 @ 18:45
Harlequins recorded an important victory at The Stoop, with a 26-20 victory over London Irish.
The hosts built an early lead through the boot of Nick Evans and when Danny Care was at the end of a stunningly worked try on the half hour mark, Harlequins looked on the verge of pulling away with a 19-6 lead.
However, against the run of play, James Short scored a fortuitous try to bring the Exiles right back into the match 19-13, at half time.
In the second half, Harlequins again pulled away as Hopper completed another impressive score, but London Irish hit straight back with a try from Tom Fowlie which brought the match to its concluding score of 26-20.
The result is a much needed win for Harlequins as they look to climb the Aviva Premiership table with five rounds remaining of the regular season. The victory was made all the more special for openside flanker Luke Wallace, who made his 100th senior appearance for the club.
The match started heavily in Harlequins’ favour. Strong carries from Hopper, Dave Ward and Harry Sloan allowed Harlequins to pressurise the Exiles. This pressure took its toll and Evans easily punished the visitors with three penalties inside the first 20 minutes. Irish kept themselves in the match with Geraghty kicking six points of his own.
Evans made his fourth penalty on 24 minutes, before the hosts pulled ahead thanks to Care’s impressive try.
Working the phases on the left hand side, the ball was shipped between Mark Lambert, Nick Easter and Hopper, who drew Ofisa Treviranus, before offloading to care to score. Evans’s conversion gave the hosts a comfortable 19-6 win.
At this point Harlequins were firmly on top, working into the 22, they won a penalty. After kicking to the corner, the lineout was thrown long which allowed Irish to clear. An awkward bounce of the ball cruelly went against Ross Chisholm which allowed James Short to steal possession on half way. Racing clear, he scored under the posts and Geraghty’s conversion brought the score to 19-13 at the break.
Harlequins started the second half strongly and Evans once again punished The Exiles for their ill-discipline. Working upfield from the increasing penalty count, Harlequins had a lineout inside the 22 on 48 minutes.
After working a series of phases, Evans cleverly fixed the defence allowing Jack Clifford to punch a hole. Following Andrew Fenby’s last ditch tackle, the ball was recycled quickly and the ball was shipped wide for Hopper to score; Evans’ conversion extended the lead.
Irish responded immediately and for the second time, it was against the run of play. Turning Harlequins possession over as a third try looked imminent, Alex Lewington raced up the right wing. Irish worked the ball to the left and Fowlie crossed the whitewash to bring the score to withing six points with 15 minutes remaining.
The remainder of the match was a stop start affair as both sides rang the changes, but Harlequins held on and will have a few weeks break before the challenge that Saracens will present in the next Round.