Match report: Exeter Chiefs 29-13 Harlequins

Saturday, 10th November 2018 @ 16:00



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Exeter Chiefs ran in five tries on their way to a 29-13 win over Harlequins in Round 3 of the Premiership Rugby Cup at Sandy Park.

Four tries in the space of 13 minutes before half-time gave Chiefs a 22-6 lead at the break before Joe Simmonds scored and converted his own try in a second half devoid of action.

Marcus Smith scored both of Quins' penalties before Dave Ward - on his 150th Harlequins appearance - ran over for a consolation try in the last minute of the match.

Earlier, Harlequins arrived at Sandy Park off the back of a narrow defeat to Newcastle Falcons in Round 2 of the competition. Aaron Morris captained the side, which featured the returning Luke Wallace, Matt Symons, Ben Tapuai and fly-half Smith.

Harlequins made a strong start in the match, with Lewis Boyce winning an excellent penalty at the breakdown in Chiefs' half; Smith breaking the deadlock with the resulting kick at goal.

From there, Harlequins' confidence grew although their contribution to the scoreboard didn't. Morris and Ross Chisholm both looked good with the ball in hand and Smith had the opportunity to make the score 0-6 with another penalty but that dragged wide.

Twenty minutes in and the best try-scoring chance of the half came for Harlequins. From a strong maul at a line out in Chiefs' 22, the away side continued to batter through the phases but an infringement came, and Exeter could relieve the pressure from the kick away.

Bouyed by withstanding Harlequins' pressure and coming away just three points behind Paul Gustard's side, Chiefs grew in confidence and rumbled over for their first try on the 27th minute.

After Quins racked up the penalties, Chiefs continued with the kick to touch and line out drive move. That came to fruition for the first time when replacement Richard Capstick got over from close range and Simmonds nailed his only conversion of the half. 7-3 turned to 12-3 shortly after when Billy Keast scored in a similar vein of form to Capstick.

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Almost in the blink of an eye, Exeter began to move out of sight with just five minutes left on the clock. From the restart after Keast's try, Chiefs found space down the left wing. With possession spilling, Tom O'Flaherty regained the ball and darted through excellently to score Chiefs' third.

In the 39th minute, Charlie Walker turned play over and Alex Dombrandt galloped down field to bring play into Chiefs' half. The hosts infringed, and Smith sent over his second penalty of the day.

At 17-6, Chiefs weren't finished there, and they continued to ramp up the pressure in Harlequins' 22 as the clock went into the red. With the penalty theirs, Exeter could have easily taken the kick at goal, but instead went to the corner. Tom Lawday went across from close range after Chiefs again put up a strong display at the maul.

Quins made changes at the break - including Ward, on for his milestone appearance - as they went in search of turning the contest around.

The second half performance was a much improved one for Harlequins - with a lot more possession - but as the clock moved towards the hour mark, Chiefs had their fifth and final try. From a smart backs move, Simmonds was on the end of it to race in down the left hand side.

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Harlequins continued to threaten in Chiefs' 22, but errors and turnovers allowed the hosts the opportunities to relieve the pressure and kick away.

With changes aplenty for both sides, momentum was taken out of the contest despite the best efforts of the impressive Alex Dombrandt and Henry Cheeseman who both made good drives in the closing spells of play.

The reward for the much-improved second half showing came in the dying minutes of the match. From Chiefs' kick out on the full, Harlequins were allowed to set up a move towards the hosts line. Ward hit the line at pace from Dave Lewis' pass and managed to wrestle over for his first try of the season.

Following the defeat, Harlequins head back to The Stoop on Friday night to face Newcastle Falcons as the Gallagher Premiership returns (kick-off 19:45). Tickets available at tickets.quins.co.uk

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