Harlequins 26, London Irish 30
It was action under the Wednesday night lights for the latest London derby clash between Harlequins and London Irish, as the two sides battled it out in Round 1 of the Premiership Rugby Cup.
It was the Exiles who dented the scoreboard first, debutant Patrick Harrison shoving his way over the try line from the back of a rolling maul. A penalty in the middle of the pitch gave Rory Jennings the chance to kick to the corner, and the forward pack did the rest. Jennings’ conversion effort was missed, but Irish took an early 0-5 lead.
It wasn’t long before the Exiles grabbed their second of the night. Italy international Luca Morisi burst down the wing before passing inside to Michael Dykes and the winger sprinted 20 metres to dot down. This time, Jennings’ conversion sailed through, and the fly-half extended the lead to 0-12.
With 10 minutes on the clock, Hugh O’Sullivan got his turn to slide over for five points. Jennings made the initial break to take Irish into the visitors’ 22m, before a neat offload from the floor to O’Sullivan, with the latter strolling to the line. The conversion was missed, but the 0-17 scoreboard reflected what was an impressive opening 10 minutes for the young Exiles side.
Harlequins then threatened through Cassius Cleaves, but a brave last-ditch tackle from full-back Logan Trotter halted the attack, with Irish winning a scrum following a knock on.
The hosts enjoyed a substantial amount of time with the ball in hand and started to apply pressure on the Exiles’ try line. But, to their credit, the Irish defence held firm to prevent Harlequins getting their first points of the game.
However, some minutes later, the pressure eventually rewarded Harlequins with their first try of the evening as Jonny Green powered over from close range. After Will Edwards’ successful conversion, the deficit was cut to 7-17.
A handful of tightly contested phases of plays then followed, but at the half-time whistle it remained 7-17 in London Irish’s favour.
Like in the first half, it was Irish who were the first team to register points in the second half. A penalty in front of the posts was popped through by Jennings to extend the Exiles’ lead by three after Harlequins were penalised for not rolling away from a tackle.
The first try of the second half went to Will Edwards after some quick feet from the Harlequins’ fly-half. Edwards converted his own try to cut the lead to 14-20.
Irish were quick to respond with their fourth and bonus point try! Ben Atkins broke down the wing before passing inside to Trotter. The full-back delayed his 2 v 1 pass to perfection and Harmes fended off the last covering defender to slide over. After the successful conversion, Irish’s lead was pushed to 14-27.
Strong running from Trotter and Tom Hitchcock pushed Irish close to the Harlequins try line, but the hosts slowed down the play illegally. Jennings slotted the resulting penalty through the uprights and the Exiles led 14-30 with 18 minutes to play.
Only a matter of moments later, Sam Riley score in the corner for the hosts. The replacement hooker slipped off from a rolling maul to touch down close to the whitewash. The conversion was missed, so the lead was cut to 19-30.
Irish were then caught on the back foot just minutes later, with the hosts reacting quicker to an unclaimed highball. Cleaves was the man to grab the loose ball and sprinted clear to score. The conversion was made, and, in a flash, the lead was reduced to a four-point gap.
With 10 minutes to go, the game was hanging in the balance.
Quins pressured in the Exiles’ half, but Hitchcock sniped in midfield to intercept and sprint off into the hosts’ 22m. The resulting pass was gathered by Harlequins, but, importantly, it relieved pressure.
Irish secured the victory after a knock on from Quins allowed Hugh O’Sullivan to punt the ball gently into the stands and bring a close to what was a frenetic 80 minutes of Premiership Rugby Cup action!
Score sequence (London Irish second): 0-5, 0-12, 0-17, 7-17, 7-20, 14-20, 14-27, 14-30, 19-30, 26-30
Harlequins: Tries: Green (31) Edwards (53) Riley (65) Cleaves (68) Conversions: Edwards (32) (54) (68)
London Irish: Tries: Harrison (5), Dykes (7), O’Sullivan (10), Harmes (56) Conversions: Jennings (8), (57) Penalties: Jennings (46), (62),
15 Connor Slevin, 14 Ross Chisholm, 13 Hayden Hyde (Benson, 33), 12 Bryn Bradley, 11 Cassius Cleaves, 10 Will Edwards, 9 Jack Stafford, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta (Fin Baxter, 53), 2 Jack Musk (Sam riley, 53), 3 Rhys Litterick (Will Hobson, 53), 4 Charlie Matthews (c), 5 Jonny Green, 6 Zach Carr (Smith, 60), 7 Will Trenholm, 8 Viliami Taulani.
16 Sam Riley, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Will Hobson, 19 Tom Golder, 20 Jonny Smith, 21 Jake Murray, 22 Jamie Benson, 23 Conor Oresanya.
15 Logan Trotter, 14 Alex Harmes (Walsh, 60), 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Tom Hitchcock, 11 Michael Dykes (Bradbury, 62), 10 Rory Jennings, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan, 1 Tarek Haffar (Parker, 62), 2 Patrick Harrison (Scott, 62), 3 Mikey Summerfield (Fasogbon, 76), 4 Ed Scragg (Chapman, 66) , 5 Chunya Munga, 6 Jack Cooke (c), 7 Isaac Curtis-Harris (Moore-Aiono, 57), 8 Ben Atkins.
16 Calum Scott, 17 Jamie Jack, 18 Afo Fasogbon, 19 Hallam Chapman, 20 Izaiha Moore-Aiono, 21 Ollie Allan, 22 Monty Bradbury, 23 Jack Walsh.
Referee: Mr Joe James
Irish name side for west London derby
Declan Kidney has confirmed the squad for Sunday’s derby clash with Harlequins at the Gtech Community Stadium in Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership (3pm kick-off).
Will Goodrick-Clarke, Agustin Creevy and Oliver Hoskins are in the front row, with Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman in the second row.
Matt Rogerson captains the side from the six jersey and is joined in the back row by Tom Pearson and Chandler Cunningham-South.
Ben White and Paddy Jackson link up to form the halfback duo, and Rory Jennings partners Benhard van Rensburg in the centres.
Michael Dykes, Lucio Cinti and James Stokes complete the line-up as the back three.
“Whenever these two clubs pitch up against one another, it always creates a good game of rugby,” said Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.
“I know that we are expecting a good crowd at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday, and they will inevitably create a great atmosphere.
“We need to make sure that we put in a full 80-minute performance to give our supporters a reason to show their voice. Harlequins are a well-drilled side, and we know it will be a difficult challenge this weekend, but one we look forward to.”
15 James Stokes, 14 Lucio Cinti, 13 Benhard van Rensburg, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South.
16 Mike Willemse, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Henry Arundell.
Baxter issues Moon injury update
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter says he cannot give a timescale as to when prop Ben Moon will return to the Exeter Chiefs match-day squad.
The 33-year-old forward is currently Exeter’s longest-serving player, having made his debut in 2008 away to Sedgley Park, and is the last remaining member of their 2009-10 promotion squad.
The England international, however, has not featured for the Devon club since coming off the bench against Munster in last April’s Heineken Champions Cup clash at Sandy Park.
Asked by the media this week about Moon, the Chiefs’ Director of Rugby said: “I wouldn’t hold out hope that he’s going to be appearing soon. It’s been a challenge for Ben for a little period of time now, it’s not just been this season.
“He’s had periods in and out with it, it’s something that’s been affecting him for a little while and because of what it is we just have to be very careful with it.”
Moon has featured in all six of Exeter’s Premiership final appearances at Twickenham – and he also played in the 2020 European Champions Cup final win over Racing 92, and Exeter’s first major final when they beat Northampton Saints to win the 2014 LV Cup.
Moon won eight England caps in the 2018-19 season, but did not make the squad for that autumn’s World Cup in Japan.
“He’s still active around the club, he’s still here, he’s in training, he’s continuing very hard with his rehab and getting everything else he can right, but we’ve just got to be really careful around that neck.
“It’s probably one of those things where it’s getting to the stage where there’s not a lot more we can do. I can’t talk for Ben about his future, but you’re not going to see him in the immediate future on the pitch.”
TEAM NEWS – Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby
South African talisman Rob du Preez is set to make his 100th Sharks appearance whilst Alex Groves is in line for his Gallagher Premiership debut as Alex Sanderson names his side to face Bath Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow night. (Kick-off 7:45pm – Live on BT Sport)
Sanderson makes seven changes to the Sale starting line-up as his squad returns to Gallagher Premiership action following defeat at the hands of Ulster in the Champions Cup.
In the forwards, there is a complete change of the Sharks front-row as Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor and Nick Schonert all return to face Bath.
Cobus Wiese links back up with Josh Beaumont in the second row following a one-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in the Sharks’ clash with Toulouse two weeks ago.
Jono Ross captains the side in the absence of Ben Curry, whilst Sam Dugdale steps in to replace the flanker after his England call up to Steve Borthwick’s England squad. Jean-Luc du Preez retains the number 8 shirt with twin-brother Dan remaining on the side lines due to an ongoing hand injury.
Gus Warr continues to provide a platform for success at scrum-half and links up with centurion Rob du Preez, who is named at fly-half.
The ever-present Sam James retains the thirteen shirt with Ryan Mills picked at inside centre in the absence of Manu Tuilagi. The former Wasps centre is one of two changes in the Sharks’ back line.
Sanderson’s second change in the backs comes in the form of Tom Roebuck, who replaces Arron Reed on the wing after an impressive cameo in the Champions Cup. Tom O’Flaherty is named on the other wing, with exciting academy graduate Joe Carpenter at full-back.
On the bench, Ewan Ashman, Ross Harrison and Joe Jones are named as front-row replacements, with Alex Groves and Rouban Birch providing further cover for the forwards. Raffi Quirke, Luke James and Arron Reed cover the backs.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Ryan Mills, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. Jono Ross (c), 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez
16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Alex Groves, 20. Rouban Birch, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Luke James, 23. Arron Reed
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