Wednesday, 9th September 2020 @ 00:00
Marcus Smith became the second youngest player behind Jonny Wilkinson to score 500 Premiership points as he orchestrated a bonus point win over London Irish.
The prolific number 10, who scored the game’s first try, reached the landmark when he cantered through for his second of the evening on 49 minutes.
He is the third Harlequins player to 500 points, joining Paul Burke and Nick Evans, and 44th in total.
In a frustrating first half, Harlequins - the away team despite being at The Stoop - thought they had scored in the fifth minute when James Lang powered forward only for Scott Baldwin to be held up on the line.
They would not be denied two minutes later, however, when Smith skipped outside before accelerating through a gap for his fifth try of the season. The try-scorer’s conversion cannoned off both posts before bouncing out.
But lead lasted just seven minutes.
After Scott Steele was shown a yellow card, Irish made the most of the advantage when Jacob Atkins inventively slapped a pass out wide to former sevens man Dan Norton who picked up the loose ball before diving into the corner. Atkins added the conversion.
Blood was spilled when Simon Kerrod and Dino Lamb sickeningly clashed heads and Harlequins were left dazed moments later as Irish pulled further ahead.
Smith’s kick forward was gathered by James Stokes who cleverly chipped forward, chased and passed to Jack Cooke whose untidy offload was scooped up by Ben Donnell who touched down.
With Steele returned to the fray, Harlequins struck back minutes later from a driving maul with Baldwin burrowing through for his third try since rugby restarted. Unusually Smith missed a successive conversion.
Harlequins fell 15-10 behind when Atkins kicked three points after being penalised at the scrum but finished the half strongly.
Luke Northmore fed Aaron Morris who burst through from 35 metres out only for Ollie Hassell-Collins’ last-ditch tackle to deny him with the line seemingly at his mercy.
Having dominated territory and possession after the resumption, Harlequins scored the try of the game when Northmore and Murley combined to release the influential Smith who cantered through for his second try of the night.
Harlequins, bolstered by debutant Andre Esterhuizen, maintained the upper hand and were rewarded with their fourth try of the evening when James Chisholm popped the ball up off the base of the scrum to Steele who darted over.
Harlequins pressed on and were rewarded with a penalty try as Irish unraveled and the scoreline was further extended in the dying moments.
Martin Landajo’s quick tap and pass to the supporting Murley saw the winger breeze through for a deserved score.
Appropriately, Smith’s successful conversion, brought matters to an end.