Harlequins rocket to the top of the Premiership table while Sale Sharks sink Bristol Bears

Planet Rugby
Harlequins' Will Porter breaks through to score a try during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium

Harlequins' Will Porter breaks through to score a try during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium

Dino Lamb’s try in the final 10 minutes at Welford Road secured Harlequins’ fourth successive win in the Premiership as they prevailed 29-25 against Leicester.

Lamb scored two tries in Saturday’s triumph with Alex Dombrandt, Tyrone Green and Will Porter all crossing the whitewash for the Famous Quarters and Marcus Smith adding two conversions.

Handre Pollard and Freddie Steward were in fine form on their Premiership returns following the World Cup, with the latter scoring twice for Leicester while club captain Hanro Liebenberg grabbed one of his own.

Lamb’s second try gave Harlequins a four-point lead in the final 10 minutes of the game, which they would hold despite immense pressure from the hosts.

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In a slugfest where the lead changed hands six times, it was Quins who prevailed to top the table – for 24 hours at least ahead of their meeting with defending champions Saracens next Saturday – handing Leicester their fourth loss in five games.

In contrast, Quins have now won four on the trot after an opening-day defeat to Gloucester, having outscored their hosts by five tries to three.

There was one late change for Leicester, where openside Tommy Reffell dropped out in favour of Matt Rogerson, with youngster Emeka Ilione stepping up to the bench.

It took just four minutes for Harlequins to open the scoring when, after a succession of carries towards the Leicester line, skipper Dombrandt was able to force his way over it.

Smith hit an upright with the conversion, meaning the gap was soon down to 5-3 when returning World Cup winner Pollard knocked over a penalty for the Tigers.

Quins then had their second try in the 16th minute when Italy international Lamb was helped over the line by a couple of teammates from a few metres out, Smith this time converting.

Leicester quickly hit back again, though, when some slick handling from Cameron Henderson, Ben Youngs and Mike Brown led to captain Liebenberg finishing superbly in the corner down the left.

The Tigers then went ahead for the first time with 33 minutes played when a strong attacking scrum led to Youngs feeding Pollard, whose pass gave Steward a walk-in on the right wing.

Pollard added the extras, but Harlequins went into the break 17-15 in front thanks to a spectacular diving finish from right winger Green off the final play of the first half.

The lead changed hands again seven minutes after the restart when Brown timed his pass to allow Steward to score his second, despite him hobbling around the right-wing moments before, with Pollard converting again.

Back came Quins as they scored their bonus-point try when scrum-half Will Porter broke through Ollie Chessum’s attempted tackle to go clear under the posts, with Smith’s conversion putting the visitors 24-22 ahead.

After replacement prop James Cronin knocked on close to the line, Pollard was able to nudge the Tigers ahead by one point with a penalty from in front of the posts in the 66th minute.

The pendulum then swung for one final time with 10 minutes remaining when, following a quickly taken penalty, Lamb was able to burrow his way over from close range for his second of a barnstorming afternoon.

Sale slay Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate

Elsewhere, England fly-half George Ford was the difference as the playmaking maestro inspired Sale to a 27-13 win over Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.

The Sharks secured their fourth win of the season, coming away with a bonus point after tries from Arron Reed, Sam James, Rob du Preez and Joe Carpenter, plus seven points from the boot of Ford.

The Bears crossed early in the contest through Josh Caulfield, with Callum Sheedy adding two penalties and the conversion for seven points, but could not muster a late score to earn a consolation losing bonus point against the frugal Sale defence.

Bristol’s scrum, boosted by the return of Kyle Sinckler, got the hosts off to a positive start, pushing Sale backwards on their own put-in to allow Sheedy a shot at goal from 50 metres, but the Welshman’s effort fell just short.

However, just a couple minutes later, Sale flanker Ben Curry was yellow-carded for taking Rich Lane out in the air, and the Bears quickly made the most of the one-man advantage.

Lane was heavily involved again, using his dancing feet before backing himself on the outside to bounce out of an attempted tackle from Du Preez before offloading off the turf to Virimi Vakatawa, who calmly sucked in the final defender before feeding Caulfield to canter in. Sheedy converted.

Sale responded with patient play, drawing a penalty advantage with their close-range catch and drive game from a five-metre lineout to allow the backline to take a risk.

That brought reward with Tom Roebuck arcing a wide pass into the arms of Reed, who had the pace to touch down in the left-hand corner despite the best efforts of Lane to drive him into touch.

Ford missed the touchline conversion but made amends a couple of minutes later as the hero of Marseille for England repeated his World Cup heroics by dropping a goal from the edge of the 22 to hand the visitors the lead, 8-7 at the break.

After points were at a premium in the first half, they came quickly after the break, with Sheedy slotting a penalty only for Sale to strike back with a try off the training ground, with Ford perfectly picking out James with a miss-pass to put the full-back through a gap and under the posts.

Moments later, Sale skipper Du Preez picked off a pass from Benhard Janse van Rensburg and ran it home from 65 metres out with a finger being laid on him. Ford was unable to add the extras.

But the England star was quickly back to his playmaking best as he slipped an inside pass to Cobus Wiese, who galloped through the Bristol line before linking up with Carpenter to finish with a dive and ensure the points for Sale.

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