Harlequins fall to a 40-21 defeat against Leinster in the final pre-season friendly of the 21/22 season
Both sides came out of the blocks fast in Dublin, with an early Leinster score through centre Conor O’Brien in the third minute soon matched with a ninth-minute score for Quins midfielder Luke Northmore. While Leinster pounced on a loose Quins grubber before shipping the ball coast to coast to score in the left corner, Quins battered the door down through first lock Dino Lamb, and then Northmore for their score.
With both scores converting their scores, a 7-7 draw within the first ten minutes suggested a tight and entertaining affair, with both sides displaying prodigious talent ball-in-hand.
However, a 21st-minute yellow card for Quins centre Andre Esterhuizen for a high hit on Leinster fullback Chris Cosgrave would force Harlequins to defend a man down for ten minutes, with Cosgrave taken from the field in a stretcher.
Leinster made the most of their one-man advantage, running in three scores without reply through openside Scott Penny, fly-half and captain Jonathan Sexton, and outside centre Jamie Osborne.
With Sexton not likely to miss from the tee, the hosts headed into a 28-7 lead as halt-time beckoned.
With Esterhuizen restored nine minutes before the break, Quins looked to make a dent in the 21-point deficit heading into the half-time team talk. Leinster’s defence failed to stop Quins’ attack legally, with second-row Devin Toner yellow carded for collapsing the maul. Quins looked to capitalise, but the Leinster defence came up with an impressive turnover to secure the home side’s half-time advantage.
Leinster held their momentum at the start of the second half, with replacement lock Ryan Baird taking a smart inside line to break clean through the Quins defence to gallop in for the score. Another replacement, Ross Byrne on for captain Sexton, missed the conversion.
Joe Marchant looked set to have clawed back a try for Quins after receiving an offload from line-breaker Alex Dombrandt. However, referee Andrew Brace pulled the visitors back for a knock-on earlier in the play.
Not to be denied, Marchant would claim his score a minute later, pouncing on a clever grubber in behind the Leinster defence from scrum-half Danny Care. Allan nailed his conversion to bring the score to 33-14 with just under half an hour to play, and a 19-point gap to close.
Quins struck again 20 minutes later with a score for Academy hooker Sam Riley, with the front row benefitting from a strong Quins driving maul to bring the score to 33-21 with just under ten minutes to play.
However, any suggestion of yet another dramatic Harlequins comeback were dashed after Leinster claimed a 78th-minute score for Liam Turner, his second, after a loose pass from Quins’ replacement wing Nick David behind his own posts. A Byrne conversion took the men in blue to 40 points for the day by the time the final whistle came about.
Final score: Leinster 40 – 21 Harlequins
Next match: Newcastle Falcons vs Harlequins. Kingston Park. Sunday, September 19. Kick-off 15:00
Tries: Northmore 9, Marchant 51, Riley 72
Conversions: Allan 10, 51, 72
Tries: O’Brien 3, Penny 28, Sexton 32, Osborne 35, Baird 42, Turner 78
Conversions: Sexton 5, 30, 37, Byrne 42, 78