Harlequins smash Gloucester
March 26, 2011
Harlequins smash Gloucester
Harlequins kept their Aviva Premiership play-off hopes alive with a seven-try 53-15 demolition of Gloucester at the Twickenham Stoop.
Winger Ugo Monye led the way with a hat-trick of tries as the hosts ended Gloucester's 11-game winning run in emphatic fashion. Centre George Lowe also grabbed two tries with hooker Joe Gray and lock George Robson also scoring to bring the Cherry and Whites crashing back down to earth following their Anglo-Welsh Cup triumph last weekend. Replacement Henry Trinder and centre Tim Molenaar grabbed late tries for Gloucester but it was too little, too late against a Quins side that dominated on all fronts.
Gloucester exerted some early pressure but Quins fronted up and weathered the early storm before cranking through the gears and taking control of the match. No.8 Nick Easter exploited a gap down the touchline and he found support in the form of the equally impressive scrum-half Danny Care before the ball was recycled to Gray who went close only to be thwarted by the Gloucester defence. But the visitors did so illegally with fly-half Nicky Robinson penalised for offside allowing Quins' Rory Clegg to open the scores from the kicking tee.
Encouraged by that score the hosts continued to play with width with Easter involved once again but Gloucester scrambled well to avert the danger. Man of the Match Mike Brown was the next to carve a great line through the stretched Gloucester defence but a knock on from flanker Maurie Fa'asavalu brought an end to a promising move.
Gloucester's hopes took a blow with an injury to in-form winger Charlie Sharples and there was more trouble when an impressive driving maul from Quins carried them deep into the visitors' 22. Gloucester hooker Scott Lawson was penalised for pulling it down and a confident Quins opted for a kick to the corner for the lineout. The gamble eventually paid off with Gray powering over from close range through the combined tackle of Robinson and his halfback partner Rory Lawson. Clegg's conversion carried Quins out to a 10-point lead but a binding penalty against prop John Andress at the next scrum gifted Robinson his first points of the day.
Quins raised their game again as the half drew to a close and were rewarded with another well-worked try. Flanker Chris Robshaw and then prop Joe Marler made significant gains up the middle before Lowe injected some pace into the attack only to be hauled down by Molenaar. But the ball was recycled quickly and worked wide to Robson who dived over in the corner for his side's second try that was converted by Clegg from out wide.
Harlequins wing Ugo Monye cruises through to score one of his three tries © Getty Images
There was still time for Care to spark another smart break off a scrum and a powerful run from Fa'asavalu into the 22 demanded a good tackle from Gloucester fullback Freddie Burns. With the defence stretched to breaking point once again the ball was worked through the hands to Monye who was able to coast in for his first Premiership try of the season. Clegg was once again on target with the conversion to bring the home crowd to their feet as the sides headed to the tunnel.
Quins picked up where they left off following the re-start with Marler galloping upfield but he failed to find Care on his shoulder and although they recycled the ball a chip through would evade Monye and roll into touch. The home side were soon back on the front foot with their forwards drawing an offside penalty that Clegg slotted with ease and the bonus point was secured just a couple of minutes later.
An ill-advised chip through from Gloucester centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was pounced upon by Quins with Marler straightening in midfield before off loading to Monye who accelerated away for his second try of the game. Clegg's conversion all but ended the contest with half an hour still to play.
But Quins showed no signs of easing up with Gloucester forced into desperate measures to stem the tide and as a result flanker Alasdair Strokosch was sin-binned for deliberately knocking the ball down. Quins immediately turned the screw and when a pass from Care ricocheted off Robinson, the loose ball fell kindly for Lowe who dotted down for a simple score that was again converted by Clegg.
Gloucester dug deep and a penalty inside the Quins 22 offered an excellent attacking platform but a great tackle from Brown forced Sharples into touch as he looked to touch down in the corner. But they did eventually cross the whitewash with ten minutes of the game remaining when good lineout ball found Trinder on a superb line. The replacement centre showed a fine turn of speed to cut through the Quins defence and score under the posts with Robinson adding the simple extras.
But the score only served to spur Quins back into life. Lowe capitalised on a tired Gloucester defence to grab his second try after a neat off load from Easter and that was soon followed by Monye who wrapped up his hat-trick with an injection of pace carrying him clear of a run-ragged defence.
Clegg converted the first score but failed with the second and it was left to Gloucester to have the final say with Molenaar squeezing in at the corner to add a little gloss to the scoreboard.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring