On Friday, the Harlequins travelled up the M4 to secure a sentimental victory in front of a crowd of 14,300; their first at Kingsholm since 1999.
Gloucester were on the front foot in the first half but they lost their way in the second, as the control and power of the Harlequins pack took centre stage and they rampaged; refocusing and regrouping to steal the win, 15-22; driving over the Cherry and Whites like a tractor on squelchy mud â€“ well that’s what the West Country’s renowned for â€“ right?
â€œThis is a massive win for usâ€ said Conor O’Shea.
In the first quarter, it was the reliable boot of â€˜released back from the England squad,â€™ Billy Twelvetrees who secured two penalties. It was the perfect platform to nudge Gloucester forward and enabled a strong and stable maul to manipulate the Quins defenders, sucking them in like a hoover. A pass from Twelvetrees out wide, gave Rob Cook the chance to slide over but a decent Quins defence held the ball up!
However the visitors didn’t do themselves any favours minutes later, when Karl Dickson was pinged at the scrum for being offside. Twelvetrees confidently converted the Cherry and Whites third penalty of the game, just past the twenty minute mark.
On the front foot the West Country pack looked vicious, pressurising the Harlequins, forcing errors and Quins conceded their second penalty in three minutes as the boot of Twelvetrees, with the moves like Jagger, slotted another between the uprights, 12-0.
Back came Quins. A driving maul led by Nick Easter saw him touch down for the London side and Nick Evans narrowed the difference with a penalty shortly after.
Really, the home side should have dented the score board a little more whilst in the driving seat. Four penalties in the first half from the boot of Twelvetrees was a special offer; one that could be withdrawn at any time or rather as soon as the opposition stopped racking up infringements.
It could’ve gone either way in the second half … the momentum was there from Gloucester but they failed to execute play concisely and effectively and Quins snatched it when it mattered most. A driving maul off a line out, saw Luke Wallace career his men over the line after a 30 metre drive, with a quarter of the match left to play. It displayed marvellous grit and determination.
An easy penalty saw the boot of Aled Thomas strike the ball well for Gloucester’s fifth penalty of the match and it looked to be all systems go with Gloucester on the attack as they pounded the Quins defence. But 17 phases later, the visitors came out unscathed from the beating and the home side empty handed in a bullish period of play. It just wasn’t enough against a defiant and resilient Harlequins side.
And to rub the West Country mud into their faces a little more, Karl Dickson saw an opportunity for a beautiful chip in Gloucester’s 22 in the closing five of the game, chased down by Charlie Walker who flew over to secure the Harlequins first victory at Kingsholm in 15 years!
Full Time: Gloucester 15-22 Harlequins
If I’m honest, this game wasn’t fruitful or exciting. It was a tough game of rugby played in the middle of the field – really emphasising the defensive play between these two sides leaving little room for unforced error. A focussed Gloucester side stood tall in the first half but a well drilled, controlled Harlequins pack took the bull by the horns so to speak in the second, with their devilish driving mauls – and it’s fair to say, Man of The Match, Luke Wallace, did a sterling job in the number 7 shirt â€“ relishing and delighting in the role in Chris Robshaw’s absence!
He said after the game;
â€œ…We really want to focus on staying where we are at the very least and hopefully moving up in the table.â€
â€œ…I’m one of the more experienced players there now which is quite scary at 24 but it’s good to get a run in the 7 jersey.â€
But it was a sore loss for the Cherry and Whites, but nothing that can’t be fixed. There are a lot of young academy players developing and filtering through in all Premiership clubs whilst the more experienced players are on International duty and sometimes the right formula isn’t always the first …
Keep plugging away Glaws and well done Quins!
By Rhiannon Chandler-Day
You can see more from Rhiannon at: http://rhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.uk