Quins snatch victory against Irish
October 28, 2012
Tom Casson's last gasp try gave Harlequins the victory%]
A controversial last-minute try from centre Tom Casson gave Harlequins a narrow 31-28 victory over London Irish in their Aviva Premiership clash at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.
Casson thought he had blown the opportunity in the last play of the game but the television match official ruled that what appeared to be a knock-on had in fact come off Casson's knee, making his subsequent grounding a legal one. The defeat was harsh on the Exiles who matched Quins throughout and looked destined to claim a vital win behind Ian Humphreys' outstanding kicking display.
Tries from Danny Care and Tom Williams put Quins clear at 26-19 with just over 20 minutes remaining but back came the Exiles behind Humphreys' boot before Casson's late effort.
Coming into the game Harlequins had lost their last two Premiership encounters while Irish were on a run of three wins on the spin in all competitions, including a 39-17 mauling of high flyers Northampton. But it was Conor O'Shea's troops who started the brighter and two Ben Botica penalties inside the first 10 minutes had them 6-0 to the good.
Despite Botica putting Quins on the front foot, as he continued to deputise superbly for the injured Nick Evans, it was Irish who scored the game's first try after 14 minutes. Jamie Gibson expertly charged down Botica's attempted clearance and the ball ballooned up in the air to Guy Armitage over the try line and he simply had to fall over to score the game's first try and his first career Premiership try.
Humphreys slotted the conversion and Irish were in front at 7-6. That lead lasted all of two minutes however until the in-form Danny Care raced clear from halfway after Anthony Watson's hurried offload ricocheted into his hands, and after Botica converted it was 13-7 to the visitors.
The points kept coming in an exciting first half as Humphreys replied with two penalties of his own to level the contest up at 13-13. Both fly-halves did not really look like missing and another penalty from each kicker meant the sides went in at the break all tied up at 16-16.
It was Irish who took the momentum into the interval though, after Harlequins full-back Brown was sent to the sin bin on the cusp of half-time for a deliberate knock-on.
After the break the visitors were a man down and without their skipper Chris Robshaw, who suffered a nasty cut above the eye, but they went back in front when Botica slotted a regulation penalty when the Exiles infringed at scrum time.
No sooner had Brown returned from his spell on the sidelines than Irish began to turn up the heat, turning over Ugo Monye from the kick-off and earning a penalty that Humphreys slotted to level it up again at 19-19.
Quins' effervescent backline had been kept largely quiet but after 52 minutes they sprung into action as Care, Botica and Matt Hopper combined to devastating effect to put Williams over in the right corner for the try of the match, Botica's conversion creeping over from the touchline.
The Exiles continued to respond in quick fashion and two Humphreys penalties made it 26-25 going into the last quarter of an hour. And after Nick Easter was penalised in the 73rd minute Humphreys made no mistake to put the Exiles back in front against the defending champions.
Monye went perilously close in the right corner late on as Quins pushed for the final score, but it was left to Casson. He may have appeared to knock on when he fell clumsily on a loose ball over the try-line but the TMO thought otherwise and Quins were saved.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery
"England remind me of a PlayStation rugby team," John Mitchell on tactics and the search for a first-choice fly-half ahead of the World Cup
Augustine Pulu will return home with little more than 20 minutes rugby in one month on tour. It is time for more midweek games writes Craig Dowd