Bok lock helps Quins book Euro spot
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Gloucester coach George Skivington described it as his team’s worst performance since he arrived at the club.
However, for Harlequins, it mattered not, as they beat a lacklustre Cherry and Whites 28-15 at Kingsholm on Monday to book a top eight Premiership finish and a place in the European Champions Cup for next season.
Gloucester is left teetering in eighth place with two rounds remaining – leaving their Euro spot in the balance.
One-time Springbok Stephan Lewies marked his first game as captain by running in a 60-metre try to help Quins secure the impressive win.
Underpinned by a resolute defence, Harlequins capitalised on three mistakes – with Lewies, Cadan Murley and Scott Steele all touching down at Kingsholm.
Employing an aggressive kick-chase game allied with the relentless Will Evans hunting down turnovers, the visitors’ early pressure paid off with Marcus Smith kicking three penalties inside the first ten minutes.
Harlequins’ lead was reduced to 9-3 when Danny Cipriani responded with a penalty of his own.
But the visitors were undeterred and scored an opportunistic try on 15 minutes.
Lewies, later named man of the match, did well to haul in Cipriani’s low kick and feed Dombrandt who cleverly offloaded to Murley who finished smartly in the corner.
It was the wing’s seventh league try, which Smith converted.
Harlequins were twice fortunate to escape when Ollie Thorley failed to hold Louis Rees-Zammit’s pass with the line at his mercy and, just moments after Joe Gray was sin-binned, Jonny May touched down only for Cipriani’s pass to be ruled forward.
With pressure mounting, the dogged Evans won a crucial turnover under his own posts to ensure Harlequins came through the numerical disadvantage unscathed.
Lewies extended Harlequins’ lead to 21-3 on 33 minutes with his virtuoso try, intercepting and sprinting 60 metres into the corner with the rocket-propelled Thorley unable to catch him.
The second row was too busy catching his breath on the Kingsholm turf to celebrate his first Premiership try.
Harlequins conceded five minutes after the interval when Jake Polledri deftly wrong-footed the defence after Chris Harris had drawn two defenders.
Harlequins preyed on more loose passing to score their third try of the match.
Joe Marchant snaffled Cipriani’s pass and sprinted clear only for the chasing Rees-Zammit to haul him down five metres short of the line. Fortunately, the centre had the presence of mind to keep the ball alive and play in the supporting Scott Steele for his third try in six matches since joining the club.
Steele was involved at the other end of the field in the dying moments to deny Ed Slater, dislodging the ball as the Gloucester man barged his way over.
Tries: Polledri, Alemanno
Tries: Murley, Lewies, Steele
Cons: Smith 2
Pens: Smith 3
Yellow card: Joe Gray (Harlequins, 21)
Gloucester: 15 Louis Rees-Zammit, 14 Ollie Thorley, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Jake Polledri, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jack Clement, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Jack Stanley, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Luke Northmore, 11 Aaron Morris, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Glen Young, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Archie White, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Chris Ashton.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley & Jonathan Healy
TMO: Trevor Fisher