Match Reports

14-man Quins claim dramatic win at the death at Brentford Stadium

Friday, 23rd April 2021 @ 16:55

Harlequins were off to a shaky start in their first trip to the Brentford Community Stadium, with London Irish racking up a six-point lead in the first twenty minutes as the men in the Quarters struggled to find their footing, with a number of successive breakdown penalties causing issues.

The tide seemed to turn as the second quarter of the match loomed. Following London Irish fly-half Paddy Jackson’s second penalty in the 20th minute, Quins found a rhythm in the attack that seemed to evade them during the first quarter. In his 300th appearance, scrum-half Danny Care put his side in great field position on Irish’s line, with an excellent piece of individual game management.

As the Quins attack rumbled into the Irish half, Care spotted the chance for a grubber into the corner, subsequently hitting his opposite number Nick Phipps - covering across to leap on the ball - and dragging the Australian international into touch directly in front of the corner flag.

Quins made the most of the position afforded them, with scrum shortly after laying the platform for the Club’s first score for the day. A number of close combat encounters through the forwards saw the away side camped on their hosts’ line.

In his 350th game for the Club, it would be Mike Brown to put Quins in front, with the fullback running an intelligent inside line to slice through the Irish defence, who had their eyes firmly on the sizable frame of Quins’ Springbok prop Wilco Louw. A Marcus Smith conversion put Quins into the lead 7-6 for the first time in the day.

Quins further extended their lead following a high hit from London Irish openside Blair Cowan on Quins centre Andre Esterhuizen in the 35th minute, with Smith taking his first kick of the day to take Quins score to double figures. However, their lead was reduced to just a single point after Jackson added his third of the day.

A try with the clock in the red before half-time for wing Cadan Murley, following a neat miss-pass from fly-half Smith, allowed Harlequins to head into the changing rooms with a healthy six-point lead at 9-15, with Smith missing his second penalty attempt.

The second half would prove even more challenging than the first, with centre Esterhuizen shown a red card just nine minutes into the second half for an innocous incident off the ball amidst a fracas that started with Quins lock Matt Symons being tackled to the ground by Irish forwards Rob Simmons and Blair Cowan.

Irish were quick to make the most of their one-man advantage, finding space down the right wing against a reduced Quins backline. Rona would be the man to provide the try assist, getting the ball away to wing Ben Loader who found ample room to roam, running in to score from over 30 metres untouched. Jackson added his first conversion of the day to restore Irish to the lead.

With Quins Captain Stephan Lewies making his return from injury in place of Dino Lamb in the second row, Harlequins looked determined to manufacture a win against the odds, with Smith adding another penalty after Irish number eight Albert Tuisue penalised for not supporting his weight at a Quins breakdown. 25 minutes to play, Quins held a narrow 16-18 lead.

Irish were not to be denied further points, with wing Ollie Hassell-Collins dotting down in the far corner as his side made the most of a fractured Quins defensive line. Smith had looked set to score an intercept try a moment earlier, but lost possession when close to the try line to allow an Irish counterattack that would result in Hassell-Collins’ score. Once Jackson added his conversion, Irish were returned to the lead at 21-18 with just over an hour played.

Battling, Harlequins were not to be denied a win in dramatic fashion, with the final minutes offering euphoria for Quins and despair for Irish.

Once again it was the Harlequins scrum, coached by Adam Jones, that put Quins in prime position after winning yet another penalty at set-piece. After some debate, Smith opted against kicking the penalty for the draw, instead sending an inch-perfect kick deep into the corner for a lineout.

With only a few minutes left to play Quins’ maul found huge success with second row Matt Symons at the helm, rumbling towards the line before the ball was shipped out to Care. Under pressure from the Irish defensive line, Care spun the pass out to Smith who looked set to be swamped by Irish defenders. Once again, however, Smith’s dancing feet carried him in and around the oncoming bodies, dotting down for the try in a dramatic finish to the game.

Once the fly-half converted his own score, Harlequins would claim chest-thumping victory to further the Club’s ambitions for playoff action this season. 

Final score: London Irish 21-25 Harlequins

Harlequins scores
Try: Brown 29, Murley 40, Smith 79
Conversion: Smith 29, 79
Penalty: Smith 35, 55

London Irish scores
Try: Loader 51, Hassell-Collins 61
Conversion: Jackson 51
Penalty: Jackson 10, 20, 37

Brown, Green, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Murley (67), Smith, Care, Dombrandt, Evans (32), Lawday, Lamb (53), Symons, Louw (63), Baldwin (63), Marler (63)

Gray (63), Els (63), Collier (63), Lewies (53), Kenningham (32), Landajo, Edwards, Northmore (67)

London Irish:
Parton, Loader, Rona, Stokes (66), Hassell-Collins, Jackson, Phipps, Gigena (66), Creevy (66), Hoskins (66), Nott (70), Simmons, Rogers, Cowan (66), Tuise

Cornish (66), Elrington (66), Chawatama (66), Munga (70), Donnell (66), Engfield, Atkins (66), Homer

Next match: Harlequins vs Wasps. Sunday May 9. The Twickenham Stoop. 15:00 kick-off. BT Sport 1.