Planet Rugby

Quins edge Gloucester in thriller

01st March 2008 16:38

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Lesley Vainikolo goes on a rampaging run against Harlequins

Powerless: Vainikolo could do little to stop Quins securing a fine win

Harlequins beat Gloucester 30-25 in an outstanding Guinness Premiership game at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

With both sides fielding their Six Nations internationals the game hit the heights many expected. The lead changed hands regularly but in the end it was George Robson's try with five minutes to go that settled it for the hosts.

Poor goal-kicking by fly-half Willie Walker and a malfunctioning line-out proved costly for Gloucester.

With Scotland's ace marksman Chris Paterson restricted to the bench, Walker managed only two successful kicks from seven attempts.

Tries from England full-back Iain Balshaw and three-quarters Jack Adams, Anthony Allen and James Simpson-Daniel should have been enough to see the visitors home in an enthralling match.

But Harlequins kept in touch with tries from prop-forward Ceri Jones and full-back Mike Brown, with a 13-point contribution from fly-half Adrian Jarvis, who converted twice and also kicked three penalties.

England winger Lesley Vainikolo was the only Gloucester three-quarter not to get on the score sheet, but his powerful running caused Harlequins plenty of problems in the first half before he faded as the game went on.

There were five tries before the interval as both sides looked to play open running rugby.

Jarvis kicked Harlequins ahead with a 14th-minute penalty but the fly-half paid the price when his kick was charged down in his opponents' half.

Gloucester centre Adams took full advantage, snatching up the loose ball and out-stripping the home side on a 70-metre run for the line.

The lead lasted little more than a minute. Quins winger Ugo Monye took a brilliant catch from the kick-off and charged to within a metre of the try-line but the home side were not to be denied as they forced Jones over for the try.

Three minutes later Gloucester grabbed the lead again.

Vainikolo began the move with a trademark barnstorming run from inside his own half and offloaded as he was tackled for Balshaw to race over.

Walker, Gloucester's third fly-half in as many games, converted and then kicked a simple penalty to extend the lead to 15-10 before combining with Simpson-Daniel to send Allen racing over in the left-hand corner.

But, a minute before the interval, Gloucester were caught napping as Brown took full advantage of a huge defensive gap to run unchallenged through the middle for a try between the posts.

Jarvis landed the second conversion of the half to cut the deficit to three points at the interval.

The fly-half's second penalty levelled the scores at 20-20 in the 54th minute.

Simpson-Daniel earned Gloucester a bonus point with their fourth try when he finished off a slick three-quarter move in the 58th minute.

But Jarvis took Harlequins to within two points with his 69th-minute penalty before the final surge which produced victory for Harlequins in front of a sell-out.

Gloucester replaced hooker Olivier Azam, whose lineout throwing had been erratic, with Andy Titterrell after 51 minutes, but their pack had lost their momentum as the home side capitalised on Walker's misses to take control of the match in the final quarter.

The Scorers:

For Harlequins:

Tries: Jones, Brown, Robson

Cons: Jarvis 3

Pens: Jarvis 3

For Gloucester:

Tries: Adams, Balshaw, Allen, Simpson-Daniel

Con: Walker

Pen: Walker

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Haldane Luscombe, 12 Tosh Masson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Will Skinner (c), 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Nicolas Spanghero, 4 James Percival, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Tani Fuga, 1 Ceri Jones.

Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 John Brooks, 18 George Robson, 19 Chris Hala'ufia, 20 Andy Gomarsall, 21 Chris Malone, 22 De Wet Barry.

Gloucester: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Jack Adams, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Lesley Vainikolo, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Peter Buxton (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.

Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Chris Paterson, 22 Mark Foster.

Referee: Sean Davey

Touch judges: Bob Mullis, Paul Dix

Television match official: Brian Abrahams, Geoff Warren

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