Harlequins travelled to East London on Saturday to face Old Streetonians 3s in the Quarter Final of the MMT Bowl. Despite traffic, road closures and braving the tube, Quins arrived in high spirits having beaten the same opposition earlier in the season. Quins were all too aware however that this would be a very different opponent to those that made the journey to SW London at the end of September. And this was certainly the case.
With OS opting to play uphill, Quins got the game underway. The first ten minutes saw Harlequins start the brighter of the two sides and spent most of that time camped in the OS half. On the ten minute mark Quins were awarded a scrum. With the Quins pack dominating at scrum time, scrum half George Jaques was able to pick from the base and dart down the blindside to score to the right of the posts. The conversion was missed, 0-5.
Quins continued to apply the pressure with the majority of the game being played out in OS territory. Only wayward last passes or sloppy penalties kept Quins from adding to the score. One such penalty was conceded after a great break from Shamim Eceolaza took play into the “22”, only to then see OS awarded a penalty for a breakdown infringement. The opposition failed to make touch with their resulting penalty kick however, and the ball landed straight in the bread basket of inside centre Paul Hibbert who ran in almost unopposed. With the conversion again missed, the score remained at 0-10 to the visitors.
The half continued in much the same way with the Quins pack putting pressure on opposition set piece, with Si Rowland and Chris Addis in the engine room providing clean ball for the likes of Kay Frazer, Sham and the returning Ben Morris to make great breaks and take Quins agonisingly close to extending the lead. Alas, the score remained as it was, and the referee blew for half time.
Playing into the slope didn’t seem to slow things down for Harlequins in the second half, and it wasn’t long before Quins were once again camped in the OS half. Credit to OS, they repelled wave after wave of Harlequins attack with their outside centre particularly instrumental for them in both defence and attack. But on 55’ Harlequins kicked a penalty into touch and with Mark Crow hitting his man with every throw, Quins set up a driving maul and set off toward the try line. Just as it looked like George was about to release the backs, Crow broke from the maul completely unseen by anyone (opposition and team mates) and scored under the posts. With George successful with the extras, Quins were now 0-17 up with 25’ to play.
Quins now started to accelerate through the gears. Passes started to find their man, kicks made touch and line breaks became more and more regular, Mike Graham going close to scoring after a break up the left. On 65’ Quins were awarded a scrum 10 metres from the try line. Harry Stark and Graeme Green, who had replaced the impressive Conor Ronayne at loose head, really started to dominate up front and as Quins drove for the try line, the referee ran under the sticks to award a penalty try. 0-24 with 15’ to go.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Quins were awarded another scrum in the Old Streetonian “22”. As the visiting tight five drove the scrum toward the line, open side flanker Sean Gorman, who had moved to Number 8, picked and drove over for Quins’ fifth and final try.
With the game drawing to a close Quins were guilty of stepping off the gas and Old Streetonians continued to press for a score of their own. Only an incredible one on one tackle from Sham stopped their 13 from scoring a great individual try. Their efforts were eventually rewarded when they managed to drive over from short range to score an unconverted try with the last play of the game.
While there were a number of good displays that could have earned MoM, notably a stand out performance from Shamim Eceolaza, the TES sponsored Man of the Match went to Mark Crow for his solid set piece, work around the park and deserved try. DoD was only ever going to go to Chris Addis for having the audacity to celebrate a 30th birthday during the week, his ten minutes in the sin bin being the icing on the cake.
The victory has earned Harlequins a semi final game against local rivals Quintin on 19th January. A fixture that Quins narrowly edged 21-14 earlier in the season.