Quintin RFC were the visitors to Broom Rd on Saturday as MMT3 action resumed after last weekends "break". In positively Wintry conditions the two squads warmed up and a sense of real focus was felt among the Quins players, and results had suggested this might be our toughest fixture so far.
Charlie Blower got the game underway, playing at ten for the first time in a Quins shirt, and it was soon evident that this would be a game where both teams would need to be on top form to come away with a result. The Quintin ten showed what a threat he was early on and the Quins defence, marshalled superbly by Adam Wallace with a couple of big hits, had to adapt early to repel his charges. As Quins found their feet they started to take charge slightly over their rivals, with the pack winning good lineout ball and just about keeping Quintin's strong scrum quiet. A number of strong runs and good ball retention allowed the home side to take play into Quintin's "22" where Quins were eventually awarded a penalty 5 meters out, and rather than opt for the posts, Number 8 Sean Gorman tapped quickly and dived over for the opening score of the afternoon. Charlie Blower converted for a 7-0 lead.
Quintin's response was immediate, and straight away found themselves the beneficiaries of some strong forward carries and dangerous runs from their back line that brought them deep into the Quins half. After a number of phases they themselves were awarded a penalty which they opted to kick. Fortunately, Quins were let off by a wayward kick, and the score remained at 7-0. The missed kick allowed Quins to clear the danger, and the game continued in a similar vein...with both sides probing the others defence, trying to find holes to exploit. One such hole was exploited in stylish fashion when Charlie danced his way through four or five would-be tacklers to score in the right hand side corner. His touchline conversion gave Quins a 14-0 lead.
Quintin once again came back firing and it was clear that they were not a team to roll over. With more threatening runs from their ten and twelve, Quintin found themselves on the score sheet via a well deserved try. 14-7 and game on!
While neither team could quite claim to have dominance over the other, Quins were a constant try threat with a couple of great runs from wingers Alec Smail and Kay Frazer, and only some last ditch tackling preventing scores.
Buoyed by the sizeable and vocal home support, Quins once again set off on an attack that took them into Quintin territory via some powerful carries from Harry Stark, Dave Love and Alex Horsfall. With Charlie controlling the pack and forcing play to within 2 meters of the try line, it was Sean Gorman again who picked from the base of a ruck and was driven over by his team mates to score his second of the afternoon. Conversion made, and the half drew to a close at 21-7.
While the first half was mostly about Quins attempting to find chinks in the Quintin armour, the second half was a stark contrast. Quintin enjoyed large portions of possession and rather than tire and drift out of the game, their tight five grew in confidence and began to assert some authority on the set piece. The Quins defence was tested again and again as Quintin mounted waves of attacks. Only big hits from Si Rowland, Chris Addis and Luke Nugent kept Quintin at bay, plus a couple of great one on one try saving tackles from full back Tom Webb. Eventually though, the pressure took its toll and Quintin scored their second converted score of the afternoon. 21-14.
Both sides continued to search for the elusive next score. Quins looking for a score that would give them the bonus point win and Quintin looking to snatch a draw, or even a second score for an unlikely win. With the clock running out, Quintin ramped up the intensity and took play deep into the Quins half. The changing of the guard did little to soften Quins' defence, with "finishers" Danny O'Connor and Will O'Donnell putting in a number of hits to stop any Quintin attack in its tracks. With just over 30 seconds left, a Quintin player found himself going off his feet at the breakdown, and Quins were able to kick the resulting penalty out to relieve the pressure. The lineout was secured and the ball just needed to go into touch to end the game, and when Quins were awarded their second penalty in quick succession for pulling down the maul, the game looked to be done. But Charlie decided to have one last stab at the bonus point, tapped quickly and burst through a number of Quintin players before being hauled down. This was to be the last excitement of the day as Si Hubbard decided enough was enough, and kicked the ball into touch.
The final whistle went and Harlequins came away with a hard fought 21-14 win.
Man of The Match went to Kay Frazer for his constant threat on the wing, and a crucial tackle that prevented a certain try.
DoD went to Chris Addis who, despite having a typically muscular game in the second row, found himself spending ten minutes in the bin after a bit of handbags.
Next week Quins take on Hammersmith and Fulham in an earlier than usual 12.30 kick off. H&F are currently top of the table after Quins failed to secure the bonus point for the first time, making this fixture a particularly tasty one!