Harlequins win 83-point thriller at Bordeaux-Begles in history-making Champions Cup win

Planet Rugby
Alex Dombrandt in action for Harlequins.

Alex Dombrandt in action for Harlequins.

Harlequins will compete in the semi-finals of the Investec Champions Cup for the first time in their history after they beat Bordeaux-Begles 42-41 at Stade Chaban-Delmas.

It was a thrilling game to kick off the quarter-final stage of the competition and both sides put on a spectacle on Saturday, with Harlequins deservedly coming out on top.

Crossings from Will Porter (2), Will Evans, Alex Dombrandt, Tyrone Green and a penalty try were complimented by 10 points off the tee from England fly-half Marcus Smith.

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A semi-final against Toulouse or Exeter now awaits after one of the competition’s classic games delivered 12 tries.

Bordeaux were ultimately thwarted despite tries from Maxime Lucu, Romain Buros, Nicolas Depoortere, Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Madosh Tambwe’s double, with Lucu landing four conversions and a penalty.

Quins made a blistering start in 30-degree heat, stunning their hosts by scoring the game’s opening try after just three minutes.

England flanker Chandler Cunningham-South did the hard yards on his return to action from injury, punching holes in Bordeaux’s defence, before centre Andre Esterhuizen’s touchline break saw him find Porter with a scoring pass.

Smith added the conversion and things got quickly got even better for Quins when referee Andrea Piardi awarded them a penalty try after Smith’s pass to an unmarked Louis Lynagh was deliberately knocked on by fly-half Mateo Garcia, who received a yellow card.

The game’s first water-break also saw umbrellas brought on to protect Bordeaux players from the sun and after being suitably refreshed, they attacked from a close-range line-out before skipper Lucu applied an emphatic finish.

Bordeaux had gone up a gear and they struck again six minutes later when a sweeping attack inside Quins’ half was rounded off by Buros, with Lucu’s conversion narrowing the gap to two points.

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It was a pulsating contest and Quins conjured a memorable try 10 minutes before half-time just when it looked as though Bordeaux had grasped the initiative.

Wing Cadan Murley spun in and out of Bordeaux tackles before finding Dombrandt, whose inside ball to Porter saw the scrum-half kick ahead and regather for his second touchdown. Smith’s conversion took Quins past 20 points.

And a first-half masterclass concluded from Quins when two shows of their scrum dominance was followed by a driven line-out and Evans dived over for their fourth try, with Smith converting for a 28-12 interval advantage.

Bordeaux knew they had to score first in the second half and it took them barely three minutes as Depoortere claimed a superb solo try, collecting a pass just inches off the ground before brushing aside Quins defenders.

Lucu converted and Bordeaux were rapidly establishing momentum as a long-range penalty from the captain left them six points adrift midway through the third quarter.

Quins, though, knocked Bordeaux backwards once again, and Dombrandt scored their fifth try approaching the hour-mark, with Smith’s conversion making it 35-22, only for Bielle-Biarrey to touch down after Quins’ defence was splintered.

And when Tambwe sprinted over with 15 minutes remaining – Lucu’s conversion put Bordeaux ahead for the first time – the momentum appeared to have shifted, especially when Quins hooker Sam Riley lost control of the ball while going over the home line following a forward drive.

But Green then struck to revive hopes of a famous win and hopes were further raised when Lucu missed the conversion of Tambwe’s second try before they ran down the clock and could start to celebrate an astounding success.

The teams

Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Pablo Uberti, 13 Nicolas Depoortere, 12 Yoram Moefana, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matéo Garcia, 9 Maxime Lucu (c), 8 Tevita Tatafu, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Antoine Miquel, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Cyril Cazeaux, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Maxime Lamothe, 1 Lekso Kaulashvili
Replacements: 16 Clément Maynadier, 17 Ugo Boniface, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Guido Petti, 21 Bastien Vergnes, 22 Yann Lesgourgues, 23 Madosh Tambwe

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Oscar Beard, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Will Porter, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Chandler Cunningham-South, 5 Stephan Lewies (c), 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Fin Baxter
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Simon Kerrod, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Will Trenholm, 20 George Hammond, 21 Max Green, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Luke Northmore

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy), Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

READ MORE: Bordeaux player ratings: Front-row bullied as Romain Buros’ ‘blockbuster’ in vain in Champions Cup epic