Harlequins were in fine form and high spirits this weekend as the men in the famous Quarters ran in nine tries to claim a 59-24 victory over West Country outfit Gloucester.
Quins got off to a strong start, with outside centre Luke Northmore running in the first of Quins’ scores down the left touchline. Marcus Smith missed his first conversion attempt of the day, but Quins were into the lead at home.
Quins struck for a second time soon after. After a series of short-range efforts at Gloucester's door, Quins shifted the ball out to find Brown who muscled his way past two defenders to become the first non-kicking player in Quins’ history to score 500 points for the Club. Smith made no mistake with the conversion this time.
Harlequins’ spirits were up as the side looked like racking up a serious points tally, with subsequent tries for Murley and scrum-half Danny Care securing a first-half bonus-point within 25 minutes.
However, despite the scoreboard heavily building against them, Gloucester displayed steely determination to test the home side. The visitors claimed scores either side of half-time to first reduce Quins’ score to seven points, and then bring the scoreboard level at 24-points apiece as scrum-half Charlie Chapman pounced on a loose Quins ball to race in under the posts. Once fly-half George Barton added his third conversion of the day, Quins found themselves in a scrappy game with an early lead fast slipping away with less than half an hour to play.
With the flow of play against them, the Harlequins coaching team opted to make a full front row change, bringing on an entire international trio in Joe Marler, Scott Baldwin and Wilco Louw. A change in the backrow soon followed, with Tom Lawday replacing James Chisholm on the blindside.
The changes proved profitable, with Care running in a second score soon after number eight Alex Dombrandt scooped up loose Gloucester possession, with Northmore the man to break through the Gloucester defence before feeding back to Care to claim Quins’ fifth. Smith added the conversion to take his side back into the lead, with a seven-point advantage.
Harlequins seemed back in high spirits and in scoring mood once more as reinforcements set the foundations. The Club’s sixth try came through right wing Tyrone Green this time, with the razor-sharp outside back benefitting from a neat Andre Esterhuizen offload to sprint up the pitch and dance inside the Gloucester defenders to help secure Harlequins’ comeback. Smith added another conversion to his personal points tally to bring Quins just short of 40 points, at 38-24 to the hosts.
Gloucester were struck a further blow twelve minutes from time as inside centre Matt Banahan was handed a red card for a high hit on Green as the wing looked to dart towards the line from five metres out. After receiving medical treatment, having been knocked out in the tackle attempt, Banahan was able to walk himself to the touchline unassisted. A positive sight to see after a nasty clash of heads.
Quins were quick to jump on their one-man advantage, with Dombrandt picking the ball from the back of Harlequins’ scrum that drove itself to Gloucester’s line to dot down for the home side’s seventh of the day. Smith added the conversion to take Quins’ tally to 45 with 70 minutes played.
The London team continued to push the visitors as Northmore and Dombrandt each claimed braces in the final ten minutes. Once reserve fly-half Brett Herron added the final two conversions, Quins claimed 59 points to Gloucester’s 24, with the Mighty Quins back to winning ways, further securing their third-place spot in the Gallagher Premiership. Next up, first-placed Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate Stadium.
Final score: Harlequins 59-24 Gloucester
Try: Northmore 9, 71, Brown 15, Murley 18, Care 25, 57, Green 61, Dombrandt 69, 80
Conversion: Smith 16, 25, 57, 61, Herron 69, 71, 80
Try: Chapman 33, 52, Clarke 50,
Conversion: Barton 33, 51, 53
Penalty: Barton 43
Brown, Green, Northmore, Esterhuizen, Murley, Smith, Care, Dombrandt, Evans, Chisholm, Lamb, Symons, Kerrod, Gray, Els
Baldwin, Marler, Louw, Young, Lawday, Landajo, Herron, Tapuai
Sharples, Seabrook, Trinder, Banahan, Morris, Barton, Chapman, Morgan, Clement, Clarke, Atkins, Garvey, Balmain, Hunt, Rapava-Ruskin
Gleave, Seville, Ford-Robinson, Thomas, Howard, Jones, Marsh, Morgan
Next match: Bristol Bears vs Harlequins. Ashton Gate. Saturday, March 26. 17:30 kick-off.