Sunday, 10th December 2017 @ 13:00
Harlequins are all but out of the European Rugby Champions Cup after losing 5-17 to Ulster Rugby at The Stoop.
As the snow heaved down in Twickenham both teams struggled to attack with any venom as the visitors scored the only points of the half to go into the break 0-8 ahead.
A Kyle Sinckler score to start the second spell gave the home side hope but discipline was lacking and Man of the Match John Cooney made them pay with three penalties in the final quarter to seal the 5-17 win.
Earlier, Harlequins arrived at The Stoop seven days after their comeback win over Saracens last Sunday. In Europe however their form had been poor, losing their opening two matches to sit bottom of Pool 1.
They were forced to play from behind again today as Cooney opened the scoring with a sixth minute penalty.
For the next 25 minutes neither side moved the scoreboard as conditions made visibility and handling near impossible, and at times farcical. Ground staff were forced onto the pitch on a number of occasions to clear the snow to allow the match officials to see the pitch markings.
While the match was largely played in the skies a Cooney break just before the half hour set up Jacob Stockdale to score the only try of the half. While the scrum-half missed the conversion, Ulster led 0-8 and headed into the break with the advantage.
It went from bad to worse for Harlequins as they lost two of their talisman, Chris Robshaw and Danny Care, to HIAs as they were forced into early changes. They would however stage somewhat of a fightback as a sustained period of pressure saw Kyle Sinckler crash over from close range to close the gap to 5-8.
The Londoners began to earn dominance at the set piece, stealing a number of lineouts and winning penalties at the scrum, but Ulster were more effective with ball in hand.
Led by the classy Charlie Piutau they racked up the metres as the weather began to clear. Their territorial advantage led to points as Cooney slotted three penalties in the final quarter to put the match to rest.
Harlequins fought to the very end, and were even held up over the line with five minutes to go, but they never looked like winning the encounter.
While the match was officially a sell-out, the diabolical weather led to just 8,000 supporters being able to get to the ground, a large proportion of which were a vocal Irish contingent. And it was the visiting fans that were singing at the final whistle as they kept their Champions Cup dreams alive as Quins are now all but out of the competition.
The two sides meet again on Friday night in Belfast but Harlequins will now have one eye on the return to the Aviva Premiership with a number of key clashes on the horizon.
The match was the last fixture at The Stoop in 2017 as Harlequins next home match is against Northampton Saints at Big Game 10 across the road at Twickenham Stadium. Tickets for the match are available now and be purchased by clicking here.