Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Gallagher Premiership: Harlequins book spot in play-offs after turnaround win at Twickenham

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Harlequins book their place in the Premiership play-offs while Leicester clinch their 19th Premiership win of the season, Sarries seal home semi-final and Bath haul themselves off the bottom of the table

Last Updated: 21/05/22 9:02pm

Joe Marchant (centre) scored two second-half tries as Harlequins booked their place in the Premiership play-offs

Comeback kings Harlequins booked their place in the Premiership play-offs after another spectacular turnaround saw them beat Gloucester 28-24 at Twickenham.

The Premiership champions, renowned for turning seemingly lost causes into victories, did it again as they wiped out a 17-point interval deficit.

England centre Joe Marchant scored two second-half tries before wing Cadan Murley’s 69th-minute touchdown completed the recovery mission.

Marcus Smith kicked all four conversions, including the extras following Alex Dombrandt’s first-half try, to leave Gloucester crestfallen.

“Joe was phenomenal again today,” Quins senior coach Tabai Matson said. “He does an amazing job for us.

“I thought [for England] against France [in the Six Nations], he was the best player on the field that day.

“For us, he is so reliable. He is one of our best. He is so versatile.

“He can be a world-class centre – he already is – you can put him on the wing, he can play full-back – don’t tell him I said that! – so he is a really balanced, skilful player.

“Is he one of the top centres in the country? Yes, for sure.”

For the entire opening 40 minutes, Gloucester did their utmost to gatecrash Quins’ Big Summer Kick-Off in front of a 47,000 crowd.

The visitors raced into a comfortable interval lead after tries from impressive No 8 Ben Morgan, lock Freddie Clarke and centre Chris Harris, while Adam Hastings converted all three scores and dropped a goal.

There appeared only one winner at that point, but Quins rattled up 21 unanswered second-half points, leaving Gloucester with scant consolation of a losing bonus.

The West Country club remain fifth – level on points with Northampton – and in play-off contention ahead of their final regular-season game against Saracens on June 4, but they will see their trip to Twickenham as a huge missed opportunity.

Tigers continue Premiership march

Leaders Leicester clinched their 19th Premiership win of the season with a gritty 27-5 victory over Newcastle at Kingston Park.

Tries from Nemani Nadolo and Guy Porter, bolstered by the boot of George Ford, secured the points for the table-topping Tigers, with Freddie Steward scoring late on.

Hooker George McGuigan did cross for Falcons but the hosts slipped to a 16th defeat of the season and remain 11th in the Premiership table.

“From just before half-time and then just after half-time, I thought Newcastle were really good,” said Tigers boss Steve Borthwick.

“They put us under an enormous amount of pressure. I was pleased that we stood firm for the majority of it and then came back to finish the game strongly.

“I thought it was a tough game and Newcastle played a very, very good game.

“We knew that we were going to work hard for 80 minutes to get what we wanted, and that’s what we did today.

Sarries seal home semi-final

A clinical second-half performance from Saracens saw them secure a home semi-final in the play-offs after a 42-38 win over Northampton.

At half-time an obdurate Northampton had led 10-9 but they were blown away by a 19-point burst in the first nine minutes of the second half before rallying in the final 15 minutes to secure two valuable points.

Despite their defeat, Saints still have a favourites’ chance of securing fourth place and with it the last play-off spot, as a win from next week’s final fixture at home to struggling Newcastle would see them there.

Theo McFarland scored two tries for Saracens, Nick Tompkins, Alex Lewington and Alex Goode the others, with Owen Farrell kicking three penalties and four conversions.

Tom James scored two of Northampton’s tries with Tommy Freeman, Rory Hutchinson and Matt Proctor also on the try-scoring sheet. Dan Biggar added a penalty and five conversions.

Bath set up Worcester shoot-out

Bath hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with an unlikely 27-24 comeback win against London Irish after being 10 points adrift early in the second half.

The Exiles seemed to be suffering no ill-effects from their agonising midweek Premiership Rugby Cup final defeat to Worcester when they scored a fourth, bonus-point try soon after the break.

But a Will Muir try and two penalties by Orlando Bailey, who also kicked three conversions, saw Bath fight back for a only their fifth win of the season.

They now face a shoot-out on June 4 with Worcester, three points adrift, to decide who ends up bottom of the table – although there is no relegation.





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