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Harlequins march on

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 22:10
Conor-o_shea-harlequins Gloucester-general Olly-kohn-quins
We look at Friday's matches
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Charlie Matthews grabbed two tries in seven second-half minutes to hand Harlequins a hard-fought 30-21 victory over the Premiership's bottom side Sale Sharks.

Going into the game buoyed by four wins in a row in all competitions, the Sharks were more than a match for the league leaders until 21-year-old second row Matthews produced two killer blows.

* Meanwhile in the other Friday match Gloucester maintained their hopes of securing an end of season Premiership play-off place as a controversial last-gasp red card for Errie Claassens and a penalty try handed the Cherry and Whites an unlikely win.

In the last play of the game and trailing by a solitary point, Gloucester wing Jonny May was purposefully tripped by Worcester fullback Claassens, with the line beckoning and on the recommendation of the television official, a penalty try was awarded.

We look at all Friday's matches!

Gloucester 29-23 Worcester Warriors

Gloucester maintained their hopes of securing an end of season Premiership play-off place as a controversial last-gasp red card for Errie Claassens and a penalty try handed the Cherry and Whites an unlikely win.

In the last play of the game and trailing by a solitary point, Gloucester wing Jonny May was purposefully tripped by Worcester full-back Claassens with the line beckoning and on the recommendation of the television official, a penalty try was awarded.

Claassens looked bemused as he was handed his marching orders and to rub salt in the wound, Cook kicked the extras to give Gloucester a huge win.

It was harsh on Worcester who for so long looked as though they would sneak a win at their local rivals and end a four-game losing run in the Premiership.

Despite dominating the game throughout, Gloucester twice gifted Worcester scores with needless errors as Josh Matavesi and Alex Grove darted over for the visitors.

But 14 points from the boot of Rob Cook steadied the ship and allowed Gloucester to improve an unwanted recent record of just win in their last four Premiership fixtures.

Gloucester dominated the opening 40 minutes, playing all of the rugby in Worcester's half but their greater territory and try scoring opportunities were not reflected at the break.

Worcester had the first shot at goal on three minutes but the normally reliable Andy Goode fluffed his effort at goal as the Warriors attempted to end their four-game Premiership losing streak.

Last week at London Wasps, Gloucester scored four tries but were wasteful with their place kicking and eventually slipped to a narrow loss to their play-off rivals.

Missing Freddie Burns through injury, full-back Rob Cook ensured there was to be no repeat performance in front of goal, kicking two penalties inside two minutes to hand Gloucester a 6-0 lead.

Worcester were their worst enemy in the opening 40 minutes, giving away countless penalties with their poor discipline at the breakdown.

But it was Gloucester who were next to infringe on 16 minutes as Goode reduced the arrears with a penalty of his own.

Such was Gloucester's dominance it was no surprise when Cook was handed another kick at goal but this time the Cherry and White missed his shot at goal.

Referee David Rose warned Worcester about their ill-discipline at the breakdown and it was Sam Betty who was eventually yellow carded on 29 minutes for a high tackle.

A man down it seemed almost inevitable Gloucester would add to their score in Betty's absence but against the run of play it was Worcester who crossed the try line.

Henry Trinder came galloping out of the Gloucester line to confront Matavesi but the Worcester centre stepped the Cherry and White before galloping clear to score under the posts, with Goode adding the extras with five minutes of the half remaining.

It took Gloucester just three minutes to respond though, Cook cleaned up a poor pass in his own 22, set Trinder free who in turn picked out the free running May.

The angle of the Gloucester winger's run saw him suck in Worcester's runners and send Trinder clear for a run under the posts, which was converted by Cook.

With Goode hobbling, Chris Pennell had the opportunity to level the scores at the break but the Worcester winger missed his kick at goal.

It could and probably should have been so much better for Gloucester in the opening 40 minutes but Sione Kalamafoni and Dan Murphy both wasted golden opportunities to cross the Worcester try line.

Worcester started the second half as they had finished the first, with poor discipline handing Gloucester opportunities to extend their lead.

Cook extended Gloucester's lead just 60 seconds after the break and two minutes later it was 19-10 as Ryan Mills this time kicked a penalty for the home side.

Despite practically playing on one leg after a first-half collision with Kalamafoni, Goode ensured Worcester stayed in touch with a penalty of his own five minutes into the second-half.

Worcester should have been back to within three points after 55 minutes but Goode took the strange decision to go for a crossfield kick in favour of a shot at goal from in front of the posts after Tom Savage had been penalised for getting caught on the wrong side.

Gloucester continued to play brainless rugby in the last quarter and after Goode missed a penalty on 59 minutes, the Cherry and Whites opted to run from their 22 and force the pass.

Alex Grove spotted the pass and intercepted to run through and score near enough under the Gloucester posts against the run of play - Goode converting to make it 20-19 to the visitors.

Worcester boss Richard Hill must have been pulling his hair out with ten minutes remaining as an act of stupidity by Blair Cowan, he was penalised for holding on, allowed Cook an easy kick in front of goal to give Gloucester back the lead.

Rupert Harden was the next man to be penalised at the breakdown as the momentum continued to swing both ways, with Worcester retaking the lead with just six minutes remaining as Danny Gray slotted over a penalty to make it 23-22 to the visitors.

It looked as though Gray's penalty would be enough to win the game; that was until the controversial last-gasp penalty try awarded to Gloucester after the final whistle had been blown for Claassens' trip on May, with Cook adding the extras.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Tries:
Trinder, Penalty try
Cons: Cook 2
Pens: Mills, Cook 4

For Worcester Warriors:
Tries:
Matavesi, Grove
Cons: Goode 2
Pens: Goode 2, Gray

Yellow card: Sam Betty (Worcester Warriors, 29)
Red card: Errie Claassens (Worcester Warriors, 80)

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Andy Hazell, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Shane Monahan, 22 Tim Molenaar, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Chris Pennell, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (captain), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 John Andress, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Jon Clarke.

Referee: David Rose
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege and Paul Burton
TMO: Trevor Fisher

Sale Sharks 21-30 Harlequins

Charlie Matthews grabbed two tries in seven second-half minutes to hand Harlequins a hard-fought 30-21 victory over the Premiership's bottom side Sale Sharks.

Going into the game buoyed by four wins in a row in all competitions, the Sharks were more than a match for the league leaders until 21-year-old second row Matthews produced two killer blows.

The Sharks rallied through tries from Richie Vernon and then Sam Tuitupou at the death but ultimately ran out of time in search of a losing bonus point, although they can take solace in the fact that they restricted Quins to just three scores, denying them the extra point.

Sale flew out of the blocks and in the second minute full-back Cameron Shepherd, in for Rob Miller who failed a fitness test on Thursday, finished off a sharp break-away up the left flank to dive over, with Danny Cipriani converting.

The Sharks nearly broke through once more minutes later, but scrum-half Will Cliff knocked-on the pass after finding the gap between the Harlequins defence.

But Quins got a foothold in the game in the ninth minute with Ben Botica's successful penalty from a central position.

And after a period of persistent pressure on the Sale back line, Harlequins moved within a point through Botica's long range penalty in the 20th minute.

Harlequins continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession due to Sale ill-discipline, but an organised defensive effort from the Sharks was keeping them at bay.

But in the 29th minute Sale were reduced to 14 men after Tuitupou was sin-binned for an infringement at the break-down.

And Harlequins took advantage of their extra man in the 32nd minute when Karl Dickson stepped inside to break-away, before passing inside to Tom Williams who scored his fourth try of the season, with Botica converting.

The Sharks squandered an opportunity to reduce the deficit with five minutes remaining with Cipriani's missed penalty, before Botica fluffed his penalty on the stroke of half-time, ensuring the visitors went in at the break 13-7 to the good.

Harlequins continued to put points on the board with the boot, and Botica increased their lead four minutes after the break with a routine penalty.

The away side were repeatedly taking advantage of Sale ill-discipline, with Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond becoming increasingly frustrated on the sidelines.

The Sharks were grateful to see referee Martin Fox award them a penalty in the 53rd minute, but Cipriani failed to convert his attempt.

Despite being temporarily without flanker Maurie Fa'asava - sin-binned in the 55th minute - Harlequins continued to attack with Nick Easter tackled just short of the line.

But Harlequins put significant daylight between the two sides when Matthews scored a close-range try following a series of drives in the 62nd minute, converted by Botica.

And the away side went further ahead in the 69th minute, when Matthews charged over the line following an incisive breakaway by Dickson, with Botica converting.

Sale got back in the game after Scottish international Vernon broke away from the tackle and thundered home to dive over in the 76th minute, with Cipriani converting.

And the Sharks reduced the daylight with seconds remaining when Tuitupou finished off a late drive to dive over, with Cipriani converting but in the end they fell just short of a losing bonus point.

The scorers:

For Sale Sharks:
Tries:
Shepherd, Vernon, Tuitupou
Cons: Cipriani 3

For Harlequins:
Tries:
Williams, Matthews 2
Cons: Botica 3
Pens: Botica 3

Yellow cards: Sam Tuitupou (Sale Sharks 28), Maurie Fa'asavalu (Harlequins, 54)

Teams:

Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour (captain), 6 Dan Braid, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Will Addison.

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter (captain), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Will Collier, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 George Lowe.

Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Gareth Copsey.

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