Planet Rugby

Bristol boot Quins out of contention

08th December 2007 17:01

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Alfie Tooala HEC v Quins

Breaking through: Alfie To'oala of Bristol causes Paul Volley some problems

Harlequins' Heineken Cup aspirations are all but mathematically finished after the Twickenham club crashed 3-17 at home to Bristol at the Stoop on Saturday.

The visitors claimed the early initiative with two quick-fire tries from flanker Alfie To'oala and wing David Lemi, and ground out the rest of the game. All the home side could muster was a drop goal from scrum-half Danny Care.

The Heineken Cup dream is still very much alive for Bristol though, who picked up where they left off after their home win over Stade Franšais with a typically dogged forward display in what was a must-win game for both sides.

The opening 20 minutes saw very little rugby played by either side as they grappled with the soggy conditions and each other in an ill-tempered start.

The first chance for points came through a fourth-minute penalty when Quins were guilty of pulling down a scrum in their own 22.

Bristol fly-half David Hill fluffed his shot at goal but the visitors maintained their dominance of territory and ball and were rewarded with two tries in as many minutes midway through the half.

The first came from openside Alfie To'oalo who crashed over from a line-out five metres from the Harlequins line after a take by Roy Winters.

The second was a vintage effort from Samoan wing David Lemi, who intercepted a looped pass from De Wet Barry and beat David Strettle in a 65-metre race for the line.

Hill added the extras but Quins reduced the arrears three minutes later through a well-taken 40-metre drop goal by scrum-half Danny Care.

The match continued to simmer with referee Peter Allan twice bringing the captains together for lectures on discipline.

Unsurprisingly in the thick of it was Bristol's Mark Regan - back in the side after ignoring his club's plea to rest last weekend rather than skipper the Barbarians - who was taking every opportunity to get under the skin of his opposite number Gary Botha.

The South African was making his debut for the Londoners and struggled throughout to hit his men in the line-out.

The rain intensified at the start of the second half and Bristol made immediate use of the greasy surface.

A hack through by Hill bobbled tantalisingly close to the Quins line and full-back Luke Arscott muscled his way in front of Mike Brown to flop on the ball and slide over the line.

The west country men suffered the loss of the impressive To'oalo after 53 minutes but were soon a man to the good when Quins lock Ollie Kohn was sin-binned for coming round the side of a ruck as the home side defended their line.

It took Dean Richards' side until the final 10 minutes to enjoy any sort of sustained pressure in the Bristol 22 as replacement prop Darren Crompton was shown a yellow card for killing the ball, but they still contrived to come away empty-handed.

Regan departed in the dying minutes to the obligatory boos from the home crowd but, after this display, firmly back in the affections of the Bristol faithful, who will no doubt welcome him back home next weekend when the two teams meet again.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:

Drop goal: Care

For Bristol:

Tries: To'oala, Lemi, Arscott

Con: Hill

Yellow cards: Kohn (Harlequins, 56), Crompton (Bristol, 75)

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 David Strettle, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Paul Volley (c), 6 Chris Hala'ufia, 5 Jim Evans, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Ceri Jones

Replacements: 16 Tani Fuga, 17 Ricky Nebbett, 18 Nicolas Spanghero, 19 Phil Davies, 20 Will Skinner, 21 Steve So'oialo, 22 Tosh Masson

Bristol: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Lee Robinson, 13 Rob Higgitt, 12 Neil Brew, 11 David Lemi, 10 David Hill, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Andrew Blowers, 7 Alfie To'oala, 6 Matt Salter (c), 5 Sean Hohneck, 4 Roy Winters, 3 Jason Hobson, 2 Mark Regan, 1 Alex Clarke

Replacements: 16 David Blaney, 17 Darren Crompton, 18 Gareth Llewellyn, 19 Joe El Abd, 20 Brian O'Riordan, 21 Jason Strange, 22 Sam Cox

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)

Touch judges: David Changleng (Scotland), Ronnie Dumma (Scotland)

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