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Quins get back on track

Sat, 13 Apr 2013 20:24
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We look at Saturday's action
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Birthday boy Ugo Monye and England international Danny Care both scored tries as Conor O'Shea's Harlequins got their stuttering Premiership defence back on track.

Despite the win, Quins are still third on the standings - although they narrow the gap on Saracens and Leicester Tigers, who are both playing on Sunday.

* In the other Saturday match Matt Jess grabbed the crucial try as Exeter Chiefs chalked up a 27-6 over London Irish to maintain their hopes of a top six finish in the Premiership.

We look at Saturday's action!

Harlequins 23-9 Bath

Birthday boy Ugo Monye and England international Danny Care both scored tries as Conor O'Shea's Harlequins got their stuttering Premiership defence back on track.

Thirteen points from the boot of replacement Ben Botica added to the Quins tally as the home side ended an unwanted sequence of three straight Premiership defeats with a much-needed win against Bath.

Difficult conditions made handling and running rugby tough at the Twickenham Stoop as the respective boots of Quins' Botica and Bath's Stephen Donald dominated the opening 40 minutes.

O'Shea's men seemed reserved early on as they looked to overturn an unwanted record of five defeats in their last seven games in Premiership and European action.

The scars of last weekend's European Cup quarterfinal loss against Munster seemed evident as Quins appeared stunted in their early attacking play.

Needing a win to keep up the pressure at the top of the Premiership in the Race to reach Twickenham and defend their crown it was Bath who seized the early advantage.

World Cup winner Donald, who will leave the Rec this summer, put Bath ahead after only five minutes, while Ollie Devoto stretched the advantage to six points on 21 minutes.

Early injuries to George Robson in the second row and Matt Hopper in the backline inside 24 minutes seemed to disrupt Quins' set piece and also attacking thrust.

The departure of Hopper did herald the arrival of Botica and the Quins' replacement struck twice with two penalties inside four minutes to drag the home side level seven minutes from the break.

But Donald had the last laugh of the first half, striking his second penalty of the game to give Bath - desperate for a win to maintain their surge for a top-six finish and with it European Cup rugby next season - a 9-6 half-time lead.

O'Shea must have read his men the riot act at the break as the Quins side that emerged for the second 40 minutes seemed unrecognisable from the first-half.

It took just five minutes for England scrum-half Care - a Lions possible for this summer's tour to Australia - to burrow over for a decisive and opportunist score, while Botica added the extras to put Quins 13-9 ahead.

Botica continued his fine form with the boot as he stretched Quins' lead to seven points with a well-struck penalty on 56 minutes.

In difficult conditions both sides continued to play conservative rugby, with Donald and Nick Evans peppering the respective back-lines with high balls.

With attacking rugby at a minimum, the next score seemed certain to come from a defensive lapse and that's exactly what happened as Bath's Ollie Woodburn spilled a high ball under no pressure.

Birthday-boy Monye couldn't believe his luck as the bouncing ball spun towards the Bath in-goal area, giving the England international the easiest of touchdowns for his side's second score of the game.

The decision was referred to the television match official to check the grounding but Monye's score was confirmed, with Botica again adding the extras to leave the score at 23-9 to the home side.

The game descended into a forward-dominated battle in the last ten minutes but by that stage Quins had done enough for the win.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Tries:
Care, Monye
Cons: Botica 2
Pens: Botica 3

For Bath:
Pens:
Donald 2, Devoto

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ugo Monye.

Bath: 15 Ollie Devoto, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Semesa Rokoduguni, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Mat Gilbert, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Ashley Rowden.
TMO: Geoffrey Warren.

Exeter Chiefs 27-6 London Irish

Matt Jess grabbed the crucial try as Exeter Chiefs chalked up a 27-6 over London Irish to maintain their hopes of a top six finish in the Premiership.

Flyhalf Gareth Steenson kicked 15 points and Henry Slade two while Jess crossed midway through the first half and Dave Ewers at the death, killing off any hopes of an Exiles comeback as the Chiefs moved up to sixth - good enough for a spot in the European Cup for the second year in a row.

Irish, despite showing glimpses of their attacking flair, were well beaten but will have their Premiership status confirmed if London Welsh fail to defeat Northampton Saints this weekend.

Forward power and high kicks were the early order of the day as both sides struggled to get to grips with the conditions but it was Exeter who began the brighter.

The Chiefs found some early dominance at the scrum and referee Martin Fox awarded the hosts a penalty at the set-piece on ten minutes, only for Steenson to pull his effort wide to the left.

He made amends four minutes later however when Shane Geraghty was penalised for not rolling away as the Chiefs moved into a 3-0 lead.

That provoked an immediate response from Irish however who broke after neat interplay from Ian Humphreys and Topsy Ojo and after working their way downfield, the were awarded a penalty within range.

After already showing some prowess at the lineout however, the Exiles kicked for the corner and won another penalty, only to again squeeze the Chiefs by kicking to touch.

Mr Fox gave a third penalty in quick succession and this time Irish opted for a kick at goal, fullback Tom Homer making no mistake to level the scores at 3-3 on 22 minutes.

Then it was Exeter's turn to enjoy some ball in hand and scrum-half Haydn Thomas darted through a gap as the Chiefs threatened the first try of the match.

Fullback Luke Arscott then almost went over but was denied by a good tackle from Guy Armitage as Exeter began playing the expansive brand of rugby that has won them so many plaudits this season.

They had to settle for a penalty however but Steenson was on target to restore Exeter's advantage and on 34 minutes it almost got even better, only for Damian Welch to knock on with the try-line in sight.

Mr Fox had already awarded the penalty however and Steenson slotted to make it 9-3 before adding another on 37 minutes after another Irish infringement at the scrum, handing his side a 12-3 lead at the break.

Steenson picked up from where he left off after the break and made it 15-3 on 53 minutes but back came Irish and Armitage found space down the right, only for Arscott to cover.

But Irish did trim the deficit when Humphreys was on target from the tee on 58 minutes as Irish continued to grow into the second half.

But Exeter scored the decisive try on 61 minutes when an impressive rolling maul saw Irish's desperate defence exposed when the ball was spread wide to Jess, who forced his way over - Steenson fading his conversion wide.

Irish did their best to find the converted try that would secure a bonus point but it was not forthcoming as the Chiefs eased to victory, adding a second try at the death with big forwards push - Ewers touching down and Slade adding the extras.

The scorers:

For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries:
Jess, Ewers
Con: Slade
Pens: Steenson 5

For London Irish:
Pens:
Homer, Humphreys

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter (captain), 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Ian Whitten.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11, Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 George Skivington (captain), 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Jonathan Joseph, 22 Marland Yarde, 23 Jack Moates.

Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Andrew Pearce

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