Sunday, 15th February 2015 @ 17:15
In their fourth meeting of the season, Wasps beat Harlequins 37-6 in a clinical performance that sees the Twickenham based side now seven points adrift of the top four.
Harlequins led the season series 2-1 heading into this crucial fixture but tries to Tom Varndell and Elliot Daly, as well as a perfect day with the boot from Andy Goode, gave the home side a 23-6 lead at the break.
In the second half, Harlequins managed more possession and territory than in the first spell, but they remained under constant pressure from an unyielding Wasps team. The Coventry-based side was eventually rewarded with two penalty tries as the Quins forward pack succumbed twice while desperately trying to defend their goal line.
The day had initially started brightly for Harlequins as from the kick-off they immediately made their way down field and looked poised to score first after a crash ball found Jack Clifford just shy of the goal posts before it was knocked on. Wasps cleared and, almost immediately, Andy Goode slotted the first of three penalties to give them a 3-0 lead in the 8th minute.
He followed this with another five minutes later as Tom Varndell was obstructed chasing his own kick, and then again in the 18th minute following a scrum penalty. This meant Harlequins were down 9-0 before the end of the first quarter.
When the travelling side finally managed to work their way down field, Nick Evans capitalised with a penalty of his own to close the gap. Less than 60 seconds later however they were exposed down the right wing thanks to a scintillating Christian Wade break and after a couple of phases it was Varndell who was rewarded, going over on the opposite wing. Goode was again successful and suddenly Harlequins were in a 16-3 hole after just 21 minutes.
It went from bad for worse for the Londoners as Wasps once again found gaps in the Quins defence. Charlie Walker’s covering tackle initially saved a try but from the resulting Wasps lineout, the forward pack drew in defenders and when the ball was spread wide centre Elliot Day ghosted over untouched. This made the score 23-3 with 27 minutes gone.
While Harlequins started to get some momentum in the final ten minutes of the half they only came away with another Evans penalty and headed into the break trailing by 17 points.
The second half started positively for Harlequins and a great attack saw Marland Yarde find Clifford down the wing with a delicate grubber only for it to be called back via the TMO for an earlier off the ball incident. This proved costly as minutes later Wasps were rewarded a penalty try after George Robson was deemed to have been cynical in pulling down a driving maul. The stand-in captain was sin binned and they now trailed 30-6.
While all but out of the contest Harlequins continued to try and string something together in the final quarter. Danny Care managed some trademark sniping runs, Evans found gaps with inside balls and replacement Ollie Lindsay-Hague’s pace caused some issues - but none were enough to alter the scoreboard.
Eventually, after a scoreless half hour, it was the home side that went over – grabbing the bonus point try they had desperately been searching for. Once again a Quins forward was yellow carded for cynical play, this time Clifford took the fall, as the forward pack struggled under immense pressure.
From the resulting scrum Referee Greg Garner awarded a second penalty try taking the home side out to a 37-6 lead and a huge victory over their rivals. The 16,116 in attendance left happy knowing the bonus point win was enough to send them back into the top four of the Aviva Premiership.
It leaves Conor O’Shea’s men in 8th place, seven points adrift of a playoff birth, but with eight games remaining there is still plenty to play for. This starts next week as Harlequins now have a must win match at home to fifth placed Exeter Chiefs.