Quins top all-English battle

Date published: October 26 2014

Harlequins kept up the pressure on Leinster in Pool 2 as they won away at Wasps 23-16 to make it two from two in the Champions Cup.

Harlequins kept up the pressure on Leinster in Pool 2 as they won away at Wasps 23-16 to make it two from two.

Quins have had the wood on Wasps in recent meetings, winning when the two met at the Stoop last month, while also claiming both games between the sides last season.

Those three wins came by a combined five points though, so it’s fair to say Quins haven’t found it that easy.

It was the same again here with neither team really able to impose themselves as the boots of Nick Evans and Andy Goode dominated proceedings.

But in the end, Quins showed the greater nous and once their scrum took control in the second half, they turned the screw and suffocated their hosts, with a Charlie Matthews try in the first half and a penalty try after the break.

Quins drew first blood with an early penalty from Evans after 11 minutes but Goode hit back to make it 3-3 soon after.

Wasps weren’t level for long though when Elliot Daly gave away a penalty virtually from the kick-off. Evans again on target to make it 6-3.

On 25 minutes Quins produced the first real moment of class in the game, with Dave Ward cutting straight through the Wasps defensive line before stepping past the covering defence.

He was eventually hauled down but after a sensational flick out of the back of the hand from Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Quins kept the ball alive. Eventually Matthews crashed over but Alapati Leiua got back to hold him up over the line.

Wasps were able to clear when Mike Brown was penalised for a dust-up with Goode, and on the half-hour they got the first try of the game as Joe Simpson ripped the ball off Luke Wallace in the Quins 22. From there he showed all his pace to round Matthews and dive over. Goode’s conversion made it 10-6.

But just before half-time the visitors were back in front when Matthews went over, and this time there was no Leiua to stop him. It came after good work from the Quins three-quarters, with Brown juggling the ball before delivering the final pass to his second row. Evans converted from out wide to make it 13-10.

That’s how it stayed at half-time despite one scorching break from Marland Yarde, but the England winger knocked on as he was dragged down just short of the line.

Evans added a third penalty just after the break to make it 16-10 to the visitors but Wasps got one back through Goode’s booming boot after Ward came in from the side.

And when Ashley Johnson scragged Danny Care at a ruck Quins gave away another penalty which Goode slotted to level things with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Quins looked certain to score soon after when Matt Hopper went clean through, but when the ball was recycled Care knocked the ball on.

Wasps thought they’d escaped but they were then hammered in the resulting scrum, handing Quins the ball five metres out. The visiting pack had no intention of letting the ball get away and earned a penalty try when Johnson detached early to try to stop them.

Evans’ conversion made it 23-16 and with a misfiring set-piece there was no way back for Wasps.

They kept trying, and should have done better when Nathan Hughes tapped and went from a penalty only for his support to desert him as he beat a number of tacklers five metres out.

And they let their frustration get to them at the death as Daly reacted to a George Lowe tackle and gave away a penalty for his reaction. Evans missed it though and Wasps escaped with a bonus point, but it will be little consolation as they face elimination from Europe already.

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Try: Simpson
Con: Goode
Pens: Goode 3

For Harlequins:
Tries: Matthews, Penalty
Cons: Evans 2
Pens: Evans 3

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliott Daly, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan (c).
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Tom Young, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Chris Bell.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 George Lowe, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler (c).
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Jordan Turner-Hall, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Stefano Penn