Friday, 6th November 2015 @ 22:15
Kick off 20:00
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Kick off 14:15
Harlequins continued their fine start to the season with a hard fought 16-14 win over Sale Sharks.
It was a wet evening in London and while the rain dispersed just prior to Tim Wigglesworth’s first half whistle, the conditions were tricky and it was the visitors that played them better in the opening spell. Danny Cipriani continually kicking for territory as Sale took a 3-7 lead into the break.
Harlequins however came out firing in the second half scoring 13 unanswered points in as many minutes as the hosts looked for back-to-back wins in the Aviva Premiership. The momentum though would once again flip as Sale dominated for the last quarter scoring a converted try to close the gap to 16-14 before Cipriani pushed a penalty and a last ditch drop goal wide for Harlequins to hold out for the win.
It had been a bright start to the 2015/16 season for Quins, nine points from a tough opening three games had been enough for them to start the weekend in fourth place. However the first half was nothing short of flat for the home side as Cipriani’s clever kicking game kept them deep in their own half for much of the opening spell.
Chances were few and far between for both sides but the scores were opened after Tim Visser spilled a high ball in his own 22 and Dan Braid went over for one of the easier tries of his career. Cipriani converted and Sale led 0-7 after 17 minutes.
Harlequins couldn’t find a spark and Sale had the chance to extend their lead but Cipriani slipped attempting a penalty. Harlequins cleared and made the miss count as Nick Evans kicked a penalty of his own to add to his Premiership leading points tally. The score was 3-7 at the break but it flattered the Londoners.
The second half however was in stark contrast to the first as Harlequins came out of the blocks firing, first with another penalty to Evans and then with a try to Visser whose first score for the Club made up for his previous error.
With a penalty advantage deep in the Sale half Visser found himself alone on the left wing screaming for the ball. Evans saw him and obliged with a delicate chip over the defence that Visser ran on to at pace, doing well to recover a tricky bounce. Evans converted and suddenly Harlequins led 13-7.
Five minutes later Evans added to the scoreboard with another penalty (his 74th point of the season) and Harlequins found themselves leading 16-7 after 55 minutes. But these would be the last points they would score.
As quickly as the momentum had shifted Quins way it shifted back to Sale and they scored through Sam James following ten minutes of extended pressure. The try was converted and the game hung in the balance at 16-14.
The 12,100 in attendance were all on the edge of their setas as the game swung dramatically both ways but the score would remain the same as Cipriani first pushed a penalty wide and then a drop goal as well after a last ditch effort from the fly-half.
It wasn’t pretty but it was a crucial win none-the-less as Harleuqins move into second on the table (even if only temporarily) with the Aviva Premiership heading on a European rugby enforced break for the next two weeks.
Harlequins return to The Stoop in six days time to take on Montpellier in the opening match of the European Rugby Challenge Cup – and they will be looking to make it three straight home wins to start the season. Tickets are on sale anow and can be purchased by calling 020 8410 6010 or by clicking here.
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