Quins grind past gutsy Warriors
February 18, 2012
Quins grind past gutsy Warriors%]
Harlequins were made to work hard for a 16-14 win over Worcester on Saturday, with the visitors taking the Aviva Premiership leaders all the way at the Stoop.
The combined might of Nick Evans' boot and the Harlequins pack proved too much for the visitors, who nevertheless gave a good account of themselves.
A pre-match downpour in south-west London reduced the game to a battle up front and Evans' 11 points proved the difference between the sides.
On a day when relegation rivals Newcastle Falcons bagged an all-important win, Richard Hill's Warriors played their part in gaining a losing bonus point - fly-half Joe Gray kicking nine points to add to a Miles Benjamin score.
A first-half penalty try was Quins' other score but it was Evans' boot - despite two second-half misses - that sealed a hard-fought win.
Worcester were rewarded for some incessant early pressure when Gray kicked a sixth-minute penalty. The Warriors were eight points to the good a minute later after Benjamin, having very nearly scored in full flow seconds before, dived over from close range.
George Lowe, returning for his first Harlequins start since November, produced a try-saving tackle to seemingly deny the flying Worcester wing, but he bundled over seconds later. Gray put his conversion attempt just past the left upright and that miss seemed to spur the home side into life.
Fullback Mike Brown, returning to domestic action from the England set-up, went agonisingly close to opening Harlequins' account but could not get his hands on a chip ahead.
Just before the midway point in the first half the free-flowing visitors went close to stretching their advantage. Winger Marcel Garvey was the man making the 60-yard break but he was unable to show the required composure when the tackles arrived, a wayward pass failing to put Benjamin clear.
Quins finally got themselves on the scoreboard after 22 minutes through an Evans penalty before Nick Easter threatened a try. The No.8 was eventually stopped in his tracks, partially by a Garvey tackle. The short-term gain from the outgoing winger was severely tempered by a nasty-looking mouth injury sustained in making the hit.
Worcester's Marcel Garvey makes a rare break at the Stoop © Getty Images
Garvey's departure galvanised Quins and they were rewarded for the dominance of their pack with a 29th-minute penalty try. Quins built up a head of steam from the 22 and, when the try line was in site, Worcester hooker Ed Shervington was sin-binned for pulling down the maul.
Easter was the man denied the chance to cross but referee David Rose awarded the penalty try and Evans easily added the extras to put Quins ahead for the first time.
The home side's domination up front continued after the half-time break, and when Worcester were penalised at scrum time after 43 minutes Evans' penalty stretched the home side's lead to 13-8.
Worcester hit back just minutes later when their third-choice fly-half Gray slotted a penalty to reduce the deficit to just two points. Quins again gained a five-point advantage just after the hour mark with another Evans three-pointer, but the Warriors pack refused to lie down and, after winning a penalty from a scrum, Gray made it 16-14. Evans missed two kicks at goals as the dominant Quins scrum again earned two late penalties but they proved academic.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games