Quins dominate Warriors
September 20, 2013
Worcester's Ravai Fatiaki tackles Harlequins' Tom Williams
© Getty Images
Worcester crashed to their third successive Aviva Premiership defeat of the season after a Chris Robshaw-inspired Quins coasted to a 37-13 victory at Sixways on Friday night.
First-half tries from England internationals Danny Care and Joe Marler left Worcester with a mountain to climb, but they could find no way back as Quins skipper Robshaw dominated the close-quarter exchanges and repeatedly secured possession for his team.
Nick Evans chipped in with 14 points from the boot, and all Worcester could muster was two Ignacio Mieres penalties and a late penalty try that Mieres converted as their 37-13 reversal left them with just one point from three starts.
Three yellow cards during the opening 50 minutes did not help Worcester's cause, but they were outclassed by a slick Quins outfit as second-half touchdowns followed for hooker Rob Buchanan and full-back Mike Brown before substitute Ben Botica added a penalty in the dying seconds.
Quins had a bonus point safely pouched less than halfway through the second period, such was Worcester's defensive frailty, as the Londoners bounced back from last Friday's home defeat against Northampton. They were never seriously troubled, with Worcester slumping to one of their heaviest home losses in the Premiership ahead of next weekend's Adams Park appointment with Wasps before hosting promoted Newcastle.
Quins, though, are up and running, keeping themselves in touch with the early Premiership pace-setters. There are still plenty of rough edges for Quins rugby director Conor O'Shea and his coaching staff to smooth out, yet the Irishman will be largely satisfied with a start to the season that augers well for bigger challenges that lie ahead.
Mieres booted Worcester into a second-minute lead after he was hit late by Marler, but the visitors soon found their rhythm and they dominated the opening quarter in terms of territory. Robshaw secured a couple of early turnovers for his team, and two Evans penalties were the least Quins deserved as they pummelled away deep inside Worcester's 22.
The Warriors defence was repeatedly tested, and one technical infringement too many resulted in referee Wayne Barnes sin-binning Worcester flanker Jake Abbott. Despite going a man down, Worcester picked themselves up and a second Mieres penalty put them on level terms, but Quins quickly snapped back into action and Care sprinted clear from 40 metres out.
Care's try was a deserved reward for the England international, who proved a constant thorn in Worcester's side with his incisive running, and Evans' conversion took Quins sevens points clear.
Worcester struggled to cope with their opponents when the visitors had ball in hand, and there was a certain inevitability about a second Warriors yellow card - this time for hooker Ed Shervington - before Marler crashed over from close range to claim Quins' second try. Evans again converted, and Worcester trooped off 20-6 adrift after playing half the opening 40 minutes with 14 players.
Worcester had to score first in the second half to threaten any kind of a revival, but it took Quins less than three minutes before they claimed a third try, with Buchanan crossing wide out on an overlap.
Brown added a fourth Quins try after home centre Josh Matavesi received a yellow card, and although Worcester managed a late rally - Quins' replacement prop Mark Lambert was sin-binned during a spell of Warriors pressure - they ended up being comprehensively beaten. A 68th-minute penalty try gave the Warriors a crumb of comfort from an otherwise difficult evening.
New rugby director Dean Ryan will know their discipline needs urgent attention, in addition to first up tackling that at times was not of Premiership standard. Quins, with a livewire Care repeatedly probing openings, had far too much in the locker, while former England No.8 Nick Easter - playing out of position at lock - delivered a workaholic display.
Following the game, Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea hailed the performance of Robshaw in a week where reports suggested he will not retain the England captaincy for the autumn internationals. "I see a lot of speculation about Chris," O'Shea said. "How anyone could ever not put him on a team sheet is beyond me. He is absolutely magnificent.
"You read about things, and I look at this bloke and I see what he does. I have spoken to Stuart (Engladn coach Stuart Lancaster) about it (the speculation) this morning, and it's rubbish. Being the England captain is not an easy job, being an England international in any sport is never an easy job, but Chris has had a couple of years with that sort of pressure. To come out and play and lead like he did tonight, he was brilliant."
Worcester boss Ryan admitted his side were beaten by a far superior side. "The scoreline was a true reflection," he said. "Let's not try to dress it up, we were well beaten within 50 minutes. We can't cope with that intensity.
"We didn't have an answer to their off-loading game, and when you are under that much stress, something is going to give. We went down to 14 men, and it just gets harder and harder.
"In the second half we showed an awful lot of courage and worked really hard to try to stay in the game, but we were second tonight by some distance. That was a top of the table side that found some form tonight. It was as sharp as I have seen them for a while."
Quins' Mike Brown powers towards the Worcester line © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Download ESPN's new UK multisport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup