It was a return to winning ways for Harlequins this weekend, with the Club picking up a bonus-point win away to last year’s Premiership finalists Wasps in Coventry.
Harlequins travelled to the Midlands on the hunt for a first win in nearly two months, having last come away victorious in an away Gallagher Premiership fixture over Gloucester at the start of December.
Quins started fast, with openside Will Evans crashing over for a fifth-minute try from short-range following some quick thinking from scrum-half Danny Care. Care tapped a quick penalty within Wasps territory before spreading the ball to England prop Joe Marler for a hard carry, with a handful of Quins getting hands on the ball before Evans’ eventual effort.
Converting Evans’ score, fly-half Marcus Smith - in an outstanding performance that won the halfback the Man of the Match medal - claimed 17 points at The Ricoh, missing just one of eight kicks at goal on the day.
After sparking the first of Quins’ scores, Care claimed his own after a scintillating break down the left wing by youngster Louis Lynagh. A smart supporting line from the scrum-half saw him benefit from a 40-metre Lynagh break that saw the winger shake off the attentions of three defenders before offloading out the tackle to send Care over.
Smith traded a penalty apiece with Wasps fullback Lima Sopoaga as Quins headed into the changing rooms at half-time with a 20-3 lead, with a front row comprised of internationals Joe Marler, Scott Baldwin and Wilco Louw – reinforced by the fit-again second row of Stephan Lewies and Matt Symons – forcing consecutive penalties at scrum time to provide Smith and his backline with prime field position.
Quins were fast out the tracks during the second half, too, with number eight Alex Dombrandt benefitting from a staunch Quins driving maul to claim the Club’s third try for the day. Once more, the men in the Quarters won the penalty at scrum time to establish field position for the driving lineout.
Despite Quins’ best defensive efforts for a prolonged period, Wasps picked up their first try of the day in the 59th minute, with wing Zach Kibirige dotting down out wide after his pack sucked in Quins defenders. Wasps inside centre Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion to drag their points deficit down to 15-points.
Not content to allow energy to drop, Quins were boosted by an intercept try from Lynagh in the 65th minute, picking off the pass of Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga to race in from 40 metres out. A highlight on what was a sensational day at the office for the Harlequins Academy product.
Four minutes later, however, Wasps replied through a try for number eight Tom Willis, but couldn’t stem the flow of Quins’ attack as substitute centre James Lang claimed his own intercept score in the 77th minute. A penalty try in extra time for the travelling Quins brought the day to a close, with 49-points for Harlequins to Wasps’ 17, equalling the record-breaking score away to Northampton Saints at the start of the season.
A much-needed win for Harlequins as they look to claim back-to-back wins away to Bath Rugby next weekend.
Final score: Wasps 17 – 49 Harlequins
Try: Evans 5, Care 14, Dombrandt 44, Lynagh 65, Lang 77, Penalty Try 83
Conversion: Smith 5, 14, 65, 77
Penalties: Smith 10, 29, 63
Try: Kibirige 58, Willis 69
Conversion: Gopperth 59, 70
Penalties: Sopoaga 40
Next match: Bath Rugby vs Harlequins. Saturday, February 2. Kick-off 14:15.