Planet Rugby

Harlequins through to LV= Cup Final

09th March 2013 14:02

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Brace: Tom Williams

Two tries from Tom Williams led Harlequins to a 31-23 win over a strong Bath side at The Stoop on Saturday in the LV=Cup semi-final.

The Londoners will play the winner of Sunday's other semi-final match between Sale Sharks or Saracens at Sixways next weekend.

16 of the Harlequins matchday squad were under the age of 23 and their youthful excitement and flair was on display throughout this fixture as they toppled a vastly experience Bath side with a number of seasoned internationals.

It was a stellar display by the young side who got off to the perfect start with two tries inside the first 20 minutes from Tom Guest and Tom Williams. The hosts scored a further try before half-time through Karl Dickson, in response to Bath's opening score after 26 minutes.

In the second-half, Tom Heathcote added his second penalty of the match before Tom Williams crossed for his brace. With Sam Smith in the sin-bin, Bath's Nick Abendanon scored which preceded a further penalty from Heathcote. When Bath's Nathan Catt was given ten minutes on the touchline, Botica was able to add a penalty to seal the victory.

Bath began the game strongly and regularly looked to their centre Matt Banahan to muscle his way through the line. Harlequins weathered out the initial storm and when the hosts were given their first attacking opportunity, they scored from first phase rugby.

With clean line-out ball, Botica took the ball to the line and gave an inside pass to Williams. The winger broke free and passed to Maurie Fa'asavalu. Drawing in Abendanon, the blind side flanker passed to Guest who was able to run in untouched. Botica's conversion was successful, giving Harlequins an early lead.

Bath began to dominate in the moments following and when the ball was shipped wide by Kyle Eastmond with the intended target of Banahan, Williams plucked the ball out of the air and ran in from 75 metres out to score. Again Botica added the conversion to extend the lead to 14-0.

Again Bath began to build some dominance and on this occasion they were rewarded for their efforts. Harlequins' ill-discipline five metres from the try line allowed Bath to set up three rolling mauls from the line-out set piece. After the hosts illegally brought down the first two, Bath powered over the line on the third attempt with captain Francois Louw popping up with the ball.

As the end of the first-half approached, Harlequins again found themselves attacking the Bath line. Two promising surges from George Lowe and man of the match Luke Wallace brought Harlequins to within five metres. With the ball at the base of the ruck, Dickson picked up the ball and crossed the line. The scrum half had looked dangerous all game and was helped by the efforts of Williams off the ball to create the gap to score.

Heathcote added a penalty for the visitors either side of half time before a moment of magic from Wallace set up Williams' brace.

With Harlequins in attack, Wallace broke down the right wing. Despite the defensive efforts from Bath, the open side flanker produced an on handed offload which dazzled the home crowd to find Williams to score. Botica again made no mistake and added the conversion.

Smith was sin-binned as the hour mark approached and Bath took advantage almost immediately. Horacio Agulla carved his way through the Harlequins defence inside the 22 metre line. With the offload, Abendanon crossed over the line. Referee Leighton Hodges briefly consulted TMO Andrew Small and the try was awarded.

Both kickers exchanged penalties in the following moments and despite Bath's Catt being sin-binned with eleven minutes left Harlequins couldn't take advantage and secure their fifth try.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Tries: Guest, Williams 2, Dickson
Cons: Botica 4
Pen: Botica
Yellow Card: Smith

For Bath:
Tries: Louw, Abendanon
Con: Heathcote
Pens: Heathcote 3
Yellow Card: Catt

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Luke Wallace (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 Sam Twomey, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Charlie Walker

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Nick Koster, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Semsea Rokoduguni.

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)

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