Premiership: Louis Rees-Zammit scores on his return as Gloucester beat Harlequins, while Bristol move off the bottom

Planet Rugby

Wales star Louis Rees-Zammit touched down late on to help Gloucester move into the play-off places with a 28-26 triumph over Harlequins at Kingsholm.

The speedster was making his return from injury and sealed the win in the latter stages as he sauntered under the posts.

Rees-Zammit had earlier been denied a brilliant individual try from a Tommy Allan cover tackle, but he did eventually get his name on the scoresheet.

His effort was the last of the Cherry and Whites’ tries, with Sebastian Blake, Ollie Thorley and Santiago Carreras also going over.

Quins did get two bonus-points as Tom Lawday, Cadan Murley, Sam Riley, and Matas Jurevicius touched down, but they succumbed to their fifth successive Premiership defeat.

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Rees-Zammit featured among the replacements, while prop Val Rapava-Ruskin, who recently signed a new club contract, made his 100th Gloucester appearance.

Quins scrum-half Danny Care clocked up a club record 352nd appearance for the London club, overtaking former England team-mate Mike Brown’s total, with four starting XV changes seeing starts for Murley, Jack Musk, James Chisholm and Luke Wallace.

Rees-Zammit made an early entry after Thorley went off following a collision with Murley, and Gloucester struck through a sixth-minute try.

Chisholm was yellow-carded by referee Luke Pearce, Gloucester kicked the resulting penalty to touch, and Blake crashed over at the bottom of a driven lineout, with Carreras converting.

It was a miserable start for Quins, yet they delivered a maul try of their own after 12 minutes when Lawday touched down, and Allan converted, before Thorley rejoined the action following a head injury assessment and Rees-Zammit returned to the bench.

Thorley immediately made his presence felt, catching Carreras’ superbly-placed kick and breaching Quins’ defence for his team’s second try inside the opening quarter.

Carreras’ conversion made it 14-7, and although Quins had plenty of possession and territory, handling errors and poor discipline often undermined their build-up play.

Gloucester finished the first half on top, yet they were unable to increase their advantage, and Quins remained firmly in the contest.

Quins struck first after the interval, capitalising on aggressive close-quarter work by their forwards before possession was moved wide and Murley crossed.

Allan drifted the conversion attempt wide, and that was cue for Rees-Zammit to make a permanent entry, replacing Jonny May after 57 minutes, and he almost claimed a spectacular solo score.

He beat three defenders on a dazzling 30-metre run before touching down, but television replays showed a foot in touch and the try was disallowed.

And Gloucester’s agony at that near-miss was compounded four minutes later when Quins regained the lead through Riley after Care’s clever scoring pass, with Allan’s conversion putting the visitors five points in front.

Gloucester were not finished, though, and Carreras weaved his way over for what proved to be a critical moment, and he added the extras to his score and Rees-Zammit’s touchdown to leave his team firmly in contention to secure a top-four finish.

Harry Randall inspires Bristol win

Scrum-half Harry Randall scored two tries to move Bristol off the bottom of the Premiership table with a bonus-point victory over Newcastle at Ashton Gate.

Newcastle had the better of the possession and territory, but polished performances from Randall and half-back partner AJ MacGinty proved the difference as Falcons spurned a number of scoring opportunities.

Chris Vui and Fitz Harding were also on the scoresheet for Bristol, with James Williams adding two penalties and two conversions. Gary Graham and Jamie Blamire scored Newcastle’s tries.

Bristol took the lead in the ninth minute with an excellent try. From a ruck on halfway, a superb break from MacGinty carved the defence apart before his pass sent Joe Batley racing away, with the lock providing Randall with an easy run-in.

From the restart, Newcastle responded with a sustained period of pressure which was rewarded when Graham forced his way over from close range.

Connon converted to give Falcons the lead, but Bristol were soon back in front when they declined a simple kick at goal in favour of close-range drives, one of which saw Vui crash over.

The players made light of the miserable playing conditions to provide an entertaining and evenly-contested first half-hour before the visitors suffered two injury blows in quick succession. First, their full-back Tom Penny limped off before wing Mateo Carreras fail a head injury assessment.

Despite these setbacks, Newcastle had much the better of the closing stages of the first half. Aided by Bristol’s ill discipline, the visitors camped in the opposition’s 22, and it took a superb tackle from home flanker Harding to prevent Graham from touching down for his second try.

Falcons were made to pay for their profligacy when with the last kick of the half, Williams fired over a penalty to leave his side with an undeserved interval 15-7 lead.

Within two minutes of the restart, Bristol scored a crucial third try. In their own half, their opponents lost possession for MacGinty to race away and put the defence on the back foot before Randall took advantage to nip over for his second.

The home side suffered a blow when wing Gabriel Ibitoye was sin-binned for a high tackle, with Newcastle immediately capitalising when Blamire broke away from a driving maul to score.

Ibitoye returned from the sin-bin in time to see Williams extend his side’s lead with a long-range penalty before they sealed victory with a bonus-point try from Harding with the last play of the game.

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