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Brown strikes to keep Harlequins on course

Mike Brown celebrated his England return with the winning try as Harlequins took a giant step towards securing a place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.

The fullback took advantage of Danny Care's chip, and a mistake from Charlie Sharples, to touch down in the 73rd minute. Gloucester had proved a tough nut to crack up until then, cancelling out Matt Hopper's opening try with an effort from James Simpson-Daniel. Quins trailed 11-10 at the interval and they were 14-13 down when Chris Robshaw three times declined to take the points as Gloucester were penalised at successive five-metre scrums.

But Harlequins conjured up one last opportunity which Brown snapped up, and a victory in Connacht next week should be enough to secure a quarter-final place, even if Toulouse top the group.

Harlequins were boosted by the return of Nick Evans, although the influential New Zealand flyhalf book-ended the first half with relatively simple missed penalties. That allowed Gloucester to take a narrow 11-10 lead into the interval, having quelled a bright start from Harlequins which saw them surge ahead with an expertly taken try from Hopper.

The lead switched hands again as Evans rediscovered his range but Gloucester's scrum were on top and earned another penalty for Burns, which he converted. Mike Tindall and Burns combined to send Jonny May away down the left but Quins scrambled and then turned the tables, with Brown making ground.

Olly Kohn picked up before feeding Care, who chipped ahead. May gathered but was tackled behind his line to concede the five metre scrum. The Harlequins pack won three successive penalties before Gloucester prop Nick Wood was sin-binned. On each occasion, Harlequins opted for a reset. And on after the seventh set scrum, Care was penalised for being offside and Gloucester cleared their lines.

But respite was temporary. Ugo Monye's chip and chase forced May to run the ball from behind his own posts and he was turned over. Quins moved the ball quickly, Care stabbed the kick through and Brown was on hand to score. Evans converted from wide on the left and Quins sealed the victory with some stoic defence as Gloucester's last chance ended with a Simpson-Daniel knock-on.

Scorers -- Harlequins: M Hopper, M Brown try each; N Evans 2 pens, 2 cons. Gloucester: J Simpson-Daniel try; F Burns 3 pens.

Harlequins: M Brown; T Williams, M Hopper, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; N Evans, D Care; M Lambert (J Marler 51), J Gray (C Brooker 51), J Johnston, O Kohn, C Matthews (T Vallejos 57), M Fa'asavalu, C Robshaw, N Easter.

Gloucester: J May; C Sharples, M Tindall, E Fuimaono-Sapolu, J Simpson-Daniel, F Burns, R Lawson (D Lewis 72), N Wood, S Lawson (D Dawidiuk 68), D Chistolini (R Harden 50), J Hamilton, A Brown (W James 69), A Strokosch, A Qera (Murphy 69), L Narraway (M Cox 77).

Referee: P Gauzere (France)

Sunday Indo Sport