Saturday, 19th December 2015 @ 18:00
Harlequins were looking for their sixth try-bonus point in a row and after a slow start they ran in seven answered tries in the second spell to beat Rugby Calvisano 59-7 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
It was all eyes on Welsh International Jamie Roberts as he made his long awaited Harlequins debut but he could only help his new Club to a 14-7 first half lead after they dominated much of the first half.
The next 40 minutes was an entirely different story however as Roberts, along with six other Harlequins, touched down for second half tries as the floodgates opened at The Stoop.
Along with 14 points from the boot of Ben Botica, Harlequins ran out comfortable 59-7 winners as they maintained their perfect record in both Europe and at The Stoop this season.
Harlequins began the day as one of the form teams in Europe, top of their group with three-bonus point wins to start the campaign. They were looking to follow up last week’s comfortable 10-50 away win in Italy with another statement match ahead of next week’s Big Game 8 at Twickenham Stadium.
Charlie Matthews led the side out on his 100th appearance for the Club, and Jack Clifford remained captain in Danny Care’s absence, and they both helped lead the side to a dominant start.
It wasn’t until the 15th minute however that they turned their territory into points as Tim Swiel freed his hands to offload to Marland Yarde in the corner to go over. Yarde’s try just reward for an outstanding match. Botica converted to give the home side a 7-0 lead.
Ten minutes later Yarde had another attack on the right wing, beating the first man but he was eventually tackled into touch. Moments later Harlequins turned the ball over and Nicola Belardo was yellow carded for the visitors. Quins were in a great attacking position but against the run of play Marco Susio intercepted and ran the length of the pitch to level the scores.
The Stoop crowd began to get frustrated, as the Londoners couldn’t break the game open. In the 40th minute Kyle Sinckler finally brought the crowd to their feet as he hit a crash ball with authority and busted through the Italian line to score under the posts. Botica added the extras to give the side a 14-7 lead at the break.
Like so often this season Harlequins burst out of the gates in the second spell as they continuously exploited a tired Calvisano defence. First it was the captain Jack Clifford cutting onto a nice inside ball to score under the posts in the 44th minute. Two minutes later it was Ross Chisholm who secured the bonus point after magical build up work again from Swiel and Yarde.
By now the floodgates were well and truly open and openside Dave Ward put the debutant Roberts in under the posts, much to the delight of his teammates and the 11,000 in attendance.
In the 62nd minute it was Charlie Walker, on for Yarde, who scored in the corner to make the score 40-7 - seemingly from nowhere. This time the build up play from the strong Quins pack out-powered their opposition to win a penalty. It was taken quickly and spread out to Walker who only had to dive over the white wash.
Three minutes later Walker had more to do as he received the ball in his own half before swerving around what seemed like half a dozen defenders before putting Botica in for a try. Botica again converted on route to a personal haul of 19 points for the afternoon.
It was far from over as Ross Chisholm broke from even deeper in the 68th minute, a blistering run covering 60m before passing to an open Swiel for a deserved try of his own. Five minutes later replacement scrum half Karl Dickson completed the rout with the ninth try of the day for the home side.
Both sides had chances in the final minutes but it finished 59-7 in favour of Harlequins. After four matches they now sit unbeaten on top of their pool with an astonishing 182 points and 27 tries across the opening fixtures.
With two matches in the European pool stages remaining Harlequins require just two points to guarantee a home quarter final in the Challenge Cup.
Before then Harlequins return to the Premiership with a huge clash against Gloucester Rugby next weekend in Big Game 8. Tickets for this match are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.