| 6.3°C Dublin

Blues have to make do with point after Harlequins' power play

Close

Harlequins' Nick Easter scores his side's first try during the Pool Two match of the European Rugby Champions Cup at Twickenham Stoop, Twickenham

Harlequins' Nick Easter scores his side's first try during the Pool Two match of the European Rugby Champions Cup at Twickenham Stoop, Twickenham

Harlequins' Danny Care (centre) is tackled by Leinster's Rhys Ruddock (right)during the Pool Two match of the European Rugby Champions Cup at Twickenham Stoop, Twickenham

Harlequins' Danny Care (centre) is tackled by Leinster's Rhys Ruddock (right)during the Pool Two match of the European Rugby Champions Cup at Twickenham Stoop, Twickenham

/

Harlequins' Nick Easter scores his side's first try during the Pool Two match of the European Rugby Champions Cup at Twickenham Stoop, Twickenham

Leinster had to make do with a losing bonus point as they lost out 24-18 to Harlequins in Pool 2 of The Rugby Champions Cup at The Stoop yesterday.

The game was won and lost in a six-minute period from the 54th minute to the hour, when 'Quins hit home for their two tries from No 8 Nick Easter's hard line onto the ball and Aseli Tikoirotuma's risky interception.

In an overall context, it means they trail 'Quins (12) by three points and lead third-placed Wasps (7) by two with the rebound round to come next weekend.

Leinster started out on the front foot. Madigan sliced the posts from the right for the lead in the fourth minute.

This was quickly wiped out when Jack McGrath did not support his own weight as he competed on the floor for Nick Evans to square it in the seventh minute.

The home side made the first move at the scrum, McGrath turned in by Will Collier. The lineout was won. George Lowe broke the gain line.

But Leinster suffocated the midfield, Matt Hooper tipping the ball forward, with Gordon D'Arcy and Boss putting Madigan in position to kick long. Danny Care was alert and the swarm of blue jerseys could not stay on their feet.

Harlequins were badly hampered by the retirement of Evans with a suspected groin injury to be replaced by Tim Swiel in the 13th minute.

Brown's up-and-under was mishandled by Madigan. Referee Jerome Garces whistled for Jordi Murphy playing the ball from an offside position when he hadn't. Swiel's kick put 'Quins ahead for the first time in the 20th minute.

Gopperth used decoy runners to take a gap and Luke Fitzgerald was at his shoulder. Robshaw batted the ball forward and Joe Marler went off his feet for Madigan to strike in the 26th minute.

For the first time, Harlequins got into multiple phases. Madigan did not roll away and Swiel slipped 'Quins back in front in the 35th minute.

Harlequins locks Matthews and Robson speared into the side of a maul to hand three points back to Madigan to leave it all tied up (9-all) at the break.

The energy levels returned immediately without the composure to make a difference.

ICE-COOL

Jordi Murphy was in like a flash to hijack Luke Wallace for a penalty. Cronin found Toner out of touch. The maul drew another penalty. Madigan was ice-cool from a difficult angle for 12-9 in the 48th minute.

Ruddock worked a minor miracle from the restart as he broke away from heavy contact for 20 hard yards.

The positivity was taken away by Cronin's crooked throw. This led to a scrum penalty and, eventually, to a 5-metre lineout which concluded with Easter making the whitewash for Swiel to convert for 16-12 in the 54th minute.

Leinster were on the verge of a response from Darragh Fanning's speed onto Rob Kearney's kick.

The ball was swept right for Kearney's pass to replacemenmt Zane Kirchner to be picked off by wing Tikoirotuma for five points and a really sickening blow to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead in the 60th minute.

This was the signal for Leinster to trigger the bench and own the ball for Madigan to kick three points and follow it with three more from a smooth lineout and maul.

At this point, the Irish were making swift headway without ever threatening a game-breaking try going into the last ten minutes.

Still, the tide was turning. Jack Conan pilfered a turnover.

But Cronin knocked on and Boss overcooked a chip forward. An over-exuberant Kane Douglas interfered with Robson in the air.

It was the invitation Harlequins needed to get the ball and hold onto it. When all options had been used up, Danny Care clipped over a drop goal for 24-18 in the 75th minute.

It was the breathing space they needed to hold out and take control of Pool for six days, at least.


Privacy