Saturday, 4th September 2021 @ 18:03
Cardiff Rugby started fast with two tries within the first 15 minutes, with centre Max Llewellyn and scrum-half Jamie Hill crossing for scores. With fly-half Jason Tovey converting both scores, the visitors entered a 14-0 lead.
The Welshmen furthered their lead to 21 points with a try for number eight Alun Lawrence, with Tovey true from the boot once again.
Quins struck back off good pressure from short-range carriers. Starting captain Tom Lawday would be the man to benefit from the gradual progression towards Cardiff’s line, diving over for Quins’ first try of the day in the 30th minute. Number ten Will Edwards kicked his first points of the day to covert the score for a full seven points.
However, Cardiff struck back just four minutes later with a second try for number eight Lawrence, with the big back row crashing over from short range in the far-left corner. A first miss of the day from the tee from Tovey saw Cardiff’s lead restored to 19-points at the half-time break. Half-time Harlequins 7-26 Cardiff Rugby.
A raft of changes at half-time saw Quins burst to life, with fresh arrivals Louis Lynagh and Tyrone Green combining to send the latter over for Quins’ second in the 42nd minute. Some smart running from Lynagh and an exceptional supporting line from Green brought Quins to within 12-points of their guests after Tommy Allan, on at half-time for the first time in Quins’ colours, kicking his first conversion for the Club.
Four more minutes and Lynagh would turn try-creator to scorer, scrabbling for a loose ball down the left wing before spinning away from a Cardiff defender to take the score. Allan’s second conversion attempt sailed just wide, leaving Quins with a seven-point deficit with plenty of the second half still to go.
Cardiff were not resigned to allowing a roaring Harlequins comeback. An interception from outside centre Garyn Smith from 30 metres out allowed the midfielder to run in under the posts, handing Tovey an easy conversion to extend the visitors’ lead to 14-points with just over 25 minutes left to play.
Andre ‘The Giant’ Esterhuizen stepped up to help cut down the opposition’s lead once more, with the Springbok doing what he does best and running hard and straight at the Cardiff line. Managing to just wriggle away from the tackle, Esterhuizen rolled and reached out to dot down for Quins’ fourth try. A successful attempt from the boot of Allan brought Quins to 26 points, seven short of Cardiff once more.
Much like Lynagh earlier, Esterhuizen turned from scorer to creator, sending a miss-pass out wide to Academy wing Cassius Cleaves, who broke down the left wing before drawing his man and finding a fellow Harlequins Academy man in back row Will Trenholm.
The mobile flanker tore his way down the left touchline before a neat out of the back offload to centre Luke Northmore who was able to run across the dead ball area to touch down under the posts. Another easy conversion from Allan topped off what was surely the try of the day as Harlequins drew level 33-all with Cardiff. Seven minutes to go for either side to strike a killing blow.
Quins’ fans would not have long to wait for the winning score, with another Academy man in Lennox Anyanwu finding a hole down the right side of the Cardiff defence. The centre passed inside to back row Jack Kenningham, another Academy man. Displaying footwork worthy of a winger, the openside flanker turned advancing defenders inside out, bamboozling three with a nifty outside step to run in the try from over 25 metres out. Another conversion from Allan took Quins to 40 for the day with three minutes left.
With the clock in the red and in possession deep in Cardiff territory, the Harlequins Academy conspired for another eye-catching score. Centre Anyanwu sent a crossfield kick left to right across the pitch that would bounce high in the dead ball area, with lock George Hammond tapping the ball back into the hands of back row Trenholm for the final try of the game. With Allan adding another two to his tally, Quins would finish their first game of the 21/22 campaign with a healthy 45-33 win, with over thirty players back on the pitch and officially starting their new campaign.
Next match: Leinster vs Harlequins. Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Friday September 10. 19:00 kick-off.
Tries: Lawday 33, Green 42, Lynagh 48, Esterhuizen 56, Northmore 71, Kenningham 75, Trenholm 80
Conversions: Edwards 34, Allan 43, 49, 57, 72, 76, 80
Tries: Llewellyn 7, Hill 12, Davies-King 25, Lawrence 37, Llewellyn 52
Conversion: Tovey 8, 13, 26, 39, 53