Quins and Bath book finals berth
July 15, 2011
Quins' Ollie Lindsay-Hague takes on the Exeter defence during a busy night of action at The Rec © Getty Images
Harlequins claimed the opening J.P. Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series event of the year at The Rec on Friday night but hosts Bath also qualified for the tournament finale.
Quins opened their account with a 24-5 victory over Bath and followed it up with 36-0 victory against Exeter that was enough to book their place at the Twickenham Stoop final on August 5. They completed their perfect evening with a hard-fought 26-12 win over rivals London Irish.
Bath bounced back from their opening defeat to see off London Irish 26-22 and thanks to Quins' crushing victory over the Chiefs, they could still afford to lose their last game to Exeter 21-17 and still progress as the runner-up.
Quins conceded just three scores while they racked up 15 tries with Ross Chisholm grabbing a hat-trick against Exeter and the outstanding Charlie Walker getting two against rivals London Irish. There were several impressive performers in the Quins ranks including sevens specialist Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Argentinean fly-half Ben Urdapilleta and Chisholm - who was awarded the official man-of-the-tournament award.
Tom Heathcote's double helped secure Bath's passage by their narrowest of margins as they were roared on by the majority of the 4,020 crowd inside The Rec. That spelt the end of both Irish and Exeter's tournament despite the best efforts of the Exiles' 17-year-old livewire Anthony Watson and the Chiefs' Jack Arnott.
Quins kicked things off in impressive fashion putting hosts Bath to the sword in the opening game. Miles Mantella got the first try of the competition, with Chisholm, Lindsay-Hague and Sam Smith also chipping in, and Heathcote scoring the hosts' only try.
In the second game, London Irish made a flying start with three first-half tries, two from Guy Armitage - younger brother of England internationals Delon and Steffon - and another by young winger Watson. But Exeter mounted a sensational comeback with two tries from Arnott, and another with time already up from Matt Goddard, to nick a draw.
That performance clearly took it out of Exeter as they were put to the sword by Quins in the next game, Chisholm helping himself to a hat-trick and Walker also getting on the scoresheet. And London Irish's late woes continued as this time hosts Bath pounced to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Bath captain Paul Roberts took advantage of a slip in the Irish midfield to go over unopposed in the last move of the game after the Exiles had appeared to get out of jail through Pete Synott. Quins completed their impressive evening against rivals Irish, recovering from conceding an early try to win the game.
Walker was the star of the show running in two tries as the Exiles struggled to overcome the fatigue of back-to-back games. But the greatest drama came in the final game with both Bath and Exeter having qualification in their own grasp and it showed with the lead changing hands several times. And even though Henry Slade's late try gave the Chiefs victory, Bath's losing bonus point put them through on points difference.
Group A Results:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown