Esterhuizen's try helps Harlequins dispatch 14-man Racing 92
MATCH REPORT: Harlequins recorded their first win in this season’s Champions Cup as they did enough to see off 14-man Racing at a rain-soaked Twickenham Stoop on Sunday.
The greasy conditions contributed to countless handling errors from both sides, but the hosts picked their way over twice through George Head and Andre Esterhuizen.
Racing remain winless in this season’s competition – they led at the break thanks to Kitione Kamikamica’s try, but his red card made their second-half task all the more difficult.
Quins got off to an excellent start as hooker Head produced a terrific change of pace to cut through a disjointed Racing defence and cruise in under the posts on his Heineken Champions Cup debut.
Flyhalf Tommy Allan added the extras, but Quins’ lead was cut to four points on 13 minutes as Racing counterpart Finn Russell dispatched a penalty.
A greasy pitch and ball made running rugby difficult, and the first half produced a series of scrums, many of which were five metres from the Racing line as Quins piled on the pressure.
But the hosts came up empty handed, and Racing would eventually make them pay on the stroke of half-time as a period of dominance culminated in No.8 Kamikamica powering over, Russell’s extras putting them 10-7 up at the break.
However, Quins started the second half on the front foot and notched a second try to reclaim the lead on 48 minutes as centre Esterhuizen crashed over from close range.
Kamikamica was dismissed moments later as he thundered into Quins’ Nick David, flipping the full-back head over heels in a dangerous collision in which the officials could see no mitigation.
There would be no further points, though, as Quins’ hopes of taking maximum points from the contest slipped away, with Racing rallying and even threatening on several occasions despite their numerical disadvantage.
Quins and Racing face off again in Round 3, with the Premiership side heading to the Paris La Defense Arena on January 15.
Tries: Head, Esterhuizen;
Cons: Allan 2
For Racing 92:
Harlequins: 15 Nick David, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Jack Kenningham, 5 Irné Herbst, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 George Head, 1 Fin Baxter.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 George Hammond, 20 Tom Lawday, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Oscar Beard.
Racing 92; 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Gael Fickou (captain), 11 Donovan Taofifenua, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Teddy Iribaren, 8 Kitione Kamikamica, 7 Cameron Woki, 6 Anthime Hemery, 5 Fabien Sanconnie, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Janick Tarrit, 1 Guram Gogichashvili.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jonathan Maïau, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Boris Palu, 20 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 21 Antoine Gibert, 22 Henry Chavancy, 23 Louis Dupichot.
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Rhys Jones (Wales)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)