Harlequins and London Irish share the spoils
MATCH REPORT: Harlequins and London Irish delivered the first draw of the season during a pulsating London derby at The Stoop.
The sides played to a 27-all draw during the Premiership Round Six clash on Sunday
Drawing for the fourth time in the two clubs’ 42-game history, it would be Quins to strike first on a cold West London afternoon, with flyhalf Marcus Smith claiming a seventh-minute penalty directly in front of London Irish’s posts.
Irish replied just five minutes later with a score for Wallaby centre Curtis Rona, with the Australian international striking from short range. Flyhalf Paddy Jackson added the conversion to take Irish into a 3-7 lead with little under a quarter of an hour played.
Six minutes later, Smith claimed his own try after Scotland centre James Lang shrugged off the challenge of Irish defenders, feeding the ball to number eight and captain Alex Dombrandt who drew extra defenders before giving the try-scoring pass to Smith.
Record club appearance holder Mike Brown joined the forwards in the tight to claim his own short-range score as Gustard’s men look like accelerating away from their opponents. Converting both his own and Brown’s scores, Smith kicked Quins into a 17-7 lead as the half-time whistle began to threaten.
It would be the visitors who had the final say of the first 40, however, with Samoan international hooker Motu Matu’u peeling off the back of a maul for Irish’s second try with just two minutes to the break. Two missed conversions from Jackson saw the scoreboard read 17-12 at half-time.
A returning Joe Marler would prove one of Harlequins’ highlights this weekend, as the England loosehead found great physical success on both sides of the ball around the park, and helped force numerous scrum penalties from opposition prop Oli Hoskins throughout. One such successful scrum saw Smith kick his second penalty of the day in the 46th minute to Quins into a 20-12 lead as the second half spun into action.
But Marler and Smith’s combination would be nullified soon after as Jackson kicked his own penalty in the 49th minute as Quins were penalised for crossing from the restart, returning the Club to a five-point lead.
A try for Scotland scrum-half Scott Steele after a prolonged period of Quins pressure and a third conversion for Smith ultimately proved too little to guarantee a first home win of the season.
London Irish chases a yellow card for replacement back row Archie White with a try for number eight Albert Tuisue in the 66th, with a 79th-minute score for prop Hoskins taking the visitors level at 27 points. A missed penalty attempt from Jackson with the clock in the red prevented Kidney’s team from claiming a dramatic late win.
Quins would attempt to run Jackson’s missed penalty out from their own half in the effort of claiming their own dramatic finish, but would ultimately see Irish kick it out to end their own to guarantee three points for the draw, with the four-try bonus point, with Quins claiming two points of their own for the afternoon’s efforts.
Tries: Smith, Brown, Steele
Cons: Smith 3
Pens: Smith 2
For London Irish:
Tries: Rona, Matu’u, Tuisue, Hoskins
Cons: Jackson 2
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 James Lang, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Glen Young, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Hugh Tizard, 20 Archie White, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Aaron Morris.
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 James Stokes, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Steve Mafi, 4 Andrei Mahu, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Harry Elrington.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Luke Green, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ben Donnell 21 Seán O’Brien, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Billy Meakes.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Philip Watters.
TMO: David Grashoff.