Harlequins Make it 3 in a Row in Local Derby
Harlequin Amateurs beat local rivals Thamesians for the first time with a bonus point in physical match
After big wins against Hillingdon Abbots and Uxbridge, Harlequins returned to Broom Road a place they are attempting to turn into a fortress. A strong side took to the pitch against local rivals Thamesians who are always around the top of the table and have dished out a few hiding to Quins in the past, just under a year ago they ran out comfortable winners 66-10 at Marble Hill Park. So Quins knew they were in for a tough game, but a win could see them leapfrog Thamesians in the table into the Top 3.
Thamesians kicked off and was gathered by Quins, the first ruck showed all the spectators that it was going to be a tough physical games with big hits everywhere. Thamesians had the best of the breakdown to start with, with some ferocious counter rucking, earning them a penatly within range of the posts. Thamesians took the points being offered and took and early 0-3 lead.
Despite the early lead Harlequins were completely dominant in the scrum, not managing to win many against the head but ensured that Thamesians did not get any front foot ball from the scrums.
In previous years this may have caused Quins to drop their heads, but there is a new resolve about the current team, the next passage of play was all Quins as they fought hard against the opposition to gain territory. It was never easy and turnovers were happening on both side of the pitch. Quins were determined to use the whole width of the pitch and gave a lot of ball to their prolific winger Alec Smail and Ben Morris.
Once more Quins found themselves in deep Thamesians territory and with the forwards winning quick ball the backs went wide to Alec Smail in some space, the defence tried to close him out but he had power to reach the line and touched down in the far left corner, George Jaques hit a fantastic kick from the touchline to score the conversion, Quins went into the lead 7-3.
This was certainly a physical match, with injuries from sides happening in quick succession, Thamesians full back running from deep got cut in half and had to leave the pitch bloodied and dazed, their tight head prop also had to leave the field after popping a rib after taking on Dave Love in the scrum. Unfortuantley Quins the lost scrum half Hugh Pritchard after a knock to the head, fortunately Paul Hibbert who as a little experience at 9 was playing 15, so with a quick shuffle Paul went to 9 and James Bluett came on at 15 replacing Hugh.
Harlequins kept pressing against a very good defence, but with the forwards set piece dominance and the backs pace and power they were making good ground and found themselves in the scoring zone. The backs once again decided to use the width and James Addis found himself in a enough pace to cross the whitewash near the right touchline. with the first touchline conversion too easy, George showed he is equally adept from either touchline as he slotted the conversion from the hardest position on the pitch for a right footer. 14-3 Quins.
Though there was very good rugby played by both sides this was the score at half time. Quins had never beatend Thamesians and were looking good at half time, though Thamesians were a tough side and Quins knew the couldn't drop off and let them back in the game.
Quins got the perfect start to the second half as Alec Smail went over for his second of the afternoon, he is in great form and has now scored 9 tries in the league so far. George couldn't keep his 100% kicking up as the difficult conversion just missed the posts, 19-3.
James Bluett then got in on the action as he read a pass from the Thamesians 10 perfectly and picked it off 15m out and walked in under the posts, George thankful to have a kick in front of the posts gladly added a further 2, Quins now leading 26-3 and secured the try bonus point.
The set piece dominance and confidence from the early score, pushed Quins to play some excellent rugby putting Thamesians under all sorts of pressure with the pressure telling with a lot of knock ons and wayward passing, one such wayward pass after some pressure from Luke Povey saw the ball bobbling over the try line with Luke bearing down on it to score one of the easiest tries of his career. With an injured groin George tries another kick from the touchline but couldn't quite land it, 31-3.
The next period of the match was in complete contrast to the start as Thamesians started to assert themselved more, the set piece dominance that Quins had enjoyed was now gone and their dangerous runners were back on the pitch. Coupled with a little bit of complacency from Quins, Thamesians seized their chances. A great line break from their centre saw them touch down under the posts, Thamesians second row and their Man of the Match added the conversion.
Now Thamesians had the confidence and the urgency that Harlequins had displayed for much of the match, a couple of soft penalties saw Thamesians with a lineout on Quins' 5m line, it came off the top and their centre ran a hard inside line through a gaping hole and touched down again, the conversion was added and the score was now 31-17.
Not long left to go now and another Thamesians line break saw the winger offload to the 10 who ran in 30m to score, William Flaherty put enough pressure on him that he could only score in the corner leaving a very difficult kick. Because of that pressure the kick missed the posts, the score was now 31-22. Quins were looking like they were going to throw away their hard work. With 7 minutes to go Thamesians needed one more try to at least come away with 2 bonus points.
Quins started playing some good rugby again and most of that 7 minutes was played in the Thamesians half, however a couple more soft penalties saw Quins back on their own 5m line. Harlequins' defence was resolute as Thamesians players kept trying to find away over, they span it wide only for the Quins' backline to read it well and shut down the attack. Thamesians prop then went and powered his away over the line. But the Harlequins defence was up to the challenge as 3 players found themselves between the ground and the ball, and the referee called the ball held up, that also happened to be the final play of the match and Quins won 31-22, denying Thamesians any points with the last play of the game.
Man of the Match was shared betwen Si Rowland and Luke Povey, and Dick of the Day went Alec Schmail.
There is now a week off in the league to repair our bodies after such a tough contest, but training continues on Wednesday.