Esterhuizen scores as Harlequins see off plucky Cardiff
EURO CUP REPORT: Harlequins made it two wins from two in the Champions Cup as they ran in six tries to beat a fearless Cardiff side 43-17 at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.
An inexperienced Cardiff team were level with the Premiership champions at half-time as they went over for three tries, but Quins ultimately proved too strong in the Pool B clash.
The Welsh side named a second-choice side due to players respecting a two-week quarantine for Covid-19.
Your Heineken Star of the Match – @Alex_dombrandt 👊
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 18, 2021
Cardiff fullback Cam Winnett marked his debut with a try on four minutes which scrumhalf Tomos Williams converted as the United Rugby Championship outfit made an excellent start to the game.
Quins hit back on nine minutes as scrumhalf Danny Care benefitted from a neat inside ball, with Marcus Smith adding the extras – as he did for all but one of the hosts’ tries as he tallied 18 points – to level the scores.
But Cardiff would take the lead again as flank James Botham sneaked over from close range, before another Quins response came through Smith – he broke from deep superbly and played a one-two with No.8 Alex Dombrandt before diving over.
Smith nudged a penalty on 28 minutes before another sensational individual try came five minutes later, as Cardiff wing Theo Cabango raced from his own half before stepping inside and crossing for the visitors’ third effort.
That left the scores locked at 17-17 heading into the break, and Cardiff started the second period on top as they enjoyed plenty of the ball during the opening exchanges.
However, Quins clicked into gear just before the hour mark and scored two tries in quick succession as Dombrandt first crashed over before Smith floated a kick into the hands of wing Joe Marchant who dived over in the corner.
The hosts notched their fifth try on 67 minutes as Dombrandt grabbed his second, the England international benefitting from a rumbling maul.
Cardiff kept battling and had a try ruled out by the TMO, but Quins would score a sixth try when centre Andre Esterhuizen dotted down on 77 minutes.
The two sides face off again in Round Three, when Quins make the trip to Cardiff Arms Park.
Tries: Care, Smith, Dombrandt 2, Marchant, Esterhuizen
Cons: Smith 5
Tries: Winnett, Botham, Cabango
Yellow card: Josh Adams (Cardiff, 10 – dangerous play, tip tackle)
Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Joe Marchant, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Jack Kenningham, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Stephan Lewies (captain), 4 Hugh Tizard, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Santiago Garcia Gotta.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Will Hobson, 18 Will Collier, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Viliami Taulani, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Luke Northmore, 23 Louis Lynagh
Cardiff: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Dan Fish, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Sam Moore, 7 James Botham, 6 Ellis Jenkins (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Alun Lawrence, 3 Will Davies-King, 2 Evan Yardley, 1 Rowan Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Alun Rees, 17 Nathan Evans, 18 Geraint James, 19 Rhys Anstey, 20 Alex Mann, 21 Ethan Lloyd, 22 Ioan Evans, 23 Ryan Wilkins.
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant Referees: Benoit Rousselet (France), Cedric Marchat (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)