Thursday, 14th January 2016 @ 04:00
In a game of two halves Harlequins scored four first half tries before a Cardiff fight back fell just short as the home side held on to win 34-26.
Tries to Rob Buchanan, Jack Clifford, Marland Yarde and Ross Chisholm, as well as a perfect day with the boot from Nick Evans, saw the Londoners secure an early bonus point as they took a 28-0 lead into the break,
As Conor O’Shea cleared his bench in the second spell, Cardiff sprung into action scoring four tries of their own. Eventually Evans and Ben Botica were able to kick their side to victory with two second half penalties as they held on to win 34-26.
While not the prettiest of matches it was enough to guarantee them top position in Pool 3 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup and secure them a home quarter final the weekend of April 7-10th.
A perfect start in Europe this season saw Harlequins pick up bonus points in each of their four victories to date and they immediately set off to pick up another in this match.
Two dominant scrums in the opening minutes provided the platform for Rob Buchanan to drive over to score his second try in eight days for the Club. Evans would convert to give them a 7-0 lead early.
Jack Clifford doubled the lead in the 12th minute, the new England call up bursting clean through a maul following a Harlequins lineout 20 metres out. This was the young back row’s seventh try of the season in front of England forwards coach Steve Borthwick, who was watching from The Stoop stands.
In an end-to-end opening quarter Harlequins also impressed on the other end of the field as Cardiff made a number of sieges on the Quins line. Each time they were thwarted by a rugged Quins defence that won numerous turnovers and penalties deep in their own half under pressure.
In the 22nd minute it was another Senior England squad member who would score as Marland Yarde continued his fine form to take the score to 21-0.
Ten minutes later Mike Brown would go close before spilling the ball over the line, but with seconds left on the clock Harlequins would have their bonus point.
Kicking into the corner from a penalty they spread the ball along the back line before Evans put a clever kick in behind the Cardiff defence for Ross Chisholm to burst on to. Chisholm scoring his fifth try in six games to put Harlequins up 28-0 at the break.
The second half would not prove so successful for Harlequins as Cardiff scored early through Cory Allen. Five minutes later Dan Fish closed the gap further and with half an hour to play the score was 28-12. The second score coinciding with a raft of Harlequins changes as Conor O’Shea looked to give a number of his forwards a deserved rest.
In the 55th minute Harlequins won a penalty, which Nick Evans kicked to stretch their lead out to 31-12. Cardiff would hit back with two tries from Fish and Lloyd Williams as the momentum dramatically shifted at The Stoop.
With less than ten minutes to play it was all to play for as Cardiff looked to snatch the victory and put themselves in contention of topping the Pool.
With the score at 31-26 cool heads would prevail though as the Harlequins pack worked their way down field before a last minute Botica penalty sealed the win in front of a relieved crowd.
The victory giving them five wins from five in Europe this season with a staggering 31 tries and 216 points scored.
Harlequins travel to Montpellier in the final round of the Challenge Cup Pool stages before they return to the Aviva Premiership with an away trip to Newcastle Falcons Sunday 31st January.