Harlequins v Wasps – A Qtr Final Place gets closer

Having watched Harlequins get a good win against Leicester Tigers it seemed a no brainer to watch them play against Wasps on the European stage, especially when Saracens were kicking off early!  Two top class games in one day were too good to miss!  Quins put on a great show against Tigers giving them little room to play.  Wasps arrived on the back of a loss to Bath, but they’d put in a try bonus point performance at the Rec.  The winner on the night would have their European fate in their own hands.

I felt a little conflicted on who I was going to be shouting for, as I certainly do at rugby.  I have a soft spot for both teams so pretty much decided I’d shout whenever either team did anything good, makes me very weird I suspect but I’m a rugby fan first and foremost.

The teams emerged through a huge group of young rugby players, Quins are great for that, it’s always good to see!  Nigel Owens was the referee which hopefully meant we’d have a well managed game.

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The 1st scrum was set within the 1st 2 minutes and amazingly the ball was played from it!  Most unusual for that to happen! Tom Williams was very lucky not to see a yellow card minutes later as he put in a very nasty high tackle on Alapati Leiua – I wonder if the game had more time on the clock whether he would shave had a 10 minutes rest.  As it was Andy Goode put 3 points on the board for Wasps.

Marland Yarde who’s taken his time to find his feet at Quins had a great run through the middle of the itch before he met the immovable object that is Ashley Johnson.  There was an audible moan throughout the stadium as Yarde was stopped in his tracks by a huge hit.  And yet he just jumped to his feet, it never ceases to amaze me!

The 2nd scrum saw a free kick awarded to Quins followed by a reset, it worked at the 2nd time of asking.  We saw Nick Easter’s kicking skills as he put in a kick for Yarde to chase, Tom Varndell was running with him and shouldered him off the ball.

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Still Quins attacked but their efforts turned into disaster as Danny Care took a quick tap penalty, he threw it widely over the head of George Lowe into the hands of Christian Wade.  He needs no invitation when it comes to an empty space, Wade ran half the length of the pitch to score totally against the run of play.  Goode converted to put Wasps ahead by 10, leaving the home crowd slightly shell shocked.

That feeling didn’t get any better after Ben Bottica kicked a ball straight out giving Wasps a good attacking position, in a trademark move Joe Simpson picked the ball up from the bottom of the ruck, he jinked past the only defender in his way and ran in to score Wasps’ 2nd try. Goode kicked the conversion and in spite of the fact that Quins had 70% possession, Wasps had 17 points!

Quins battered the Wasps defence wining several penalties, they eschewed points looking for a try, Ben Bottica kicked through for himself but the bounce of the ball was unkind for him and it bounced out.  Quins carried on with their attack, Wasps carried on giving away penalties, the net result was a yellow card for Nathan Hughes. That should have been a whole heap of pain for Wasps for 10 minutes, Hughes is a huge player for his team in more ways than one.

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Quins continued to seek the 7 points, but just couldn’t brake the Wasps defence, there was a funny moment when the Quins fan behind me on seeing Andy Goode in the scrum at 8 – said very loudly – ‘well that’ll add a lot of weight!’ – laughter was heard!  The ball came out of the scrum meaning no push over the line for Quins and again no matter what they did Quins just couldn’t get through. In fact Wasps turned possession over winning a penalty on their line.  Half time came with no points for the home team, 17 for Wasps.

The 1st points of the half were scored by Andy Goode as he kicked a penalty with 2 minutes on he clock, things were getting worse for Quins and Hughes was back on the pitch.  Wasps seemed to have every inch of the pitch covered and even tracked back after Danny Care made a clean break.

Quins took the kick at goal with 5 minutes on the clock after a penalty was awarded, it felt a strange decision after they’d ignored the opportunities in the 1st half, but it put points on the board for them; not the 1 however that the scoreboard had for quite a while.

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There was a strange moment when Joe Marler seemed to stop playing to engage with the assistant referee – or touch judge – he was pushed by Elliot Daly but might have been better to carry on playing.

The second half was to yield a mere 3 points – Wasps won a penalty in their own half and Elliot Daly known to have a very big boot stepped up and gave the ball an almighty kick, it sailed cleanly over the posts!  It was an amazing kick with barely any run up by Daly, almost freakish!

A short match report for this game, but to summarise the whole thing really, I imagine that Quins will have been appalled that quite so much possession 67% and territory 70% gained them a mere 3 points.  It was a real testament to the immense Wasps defence.

The win for Wasps has set up a winner tops the table clash at the new home of Wasps at the Ricoh Arena – a scenario the club couldn’t have written when they moved!

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