Harlequins 20 Benetton 9

Saturday, 15th December 2018 @ 15:00



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It wasn’t pretty but Harlequins got the win they needed to take them back to the top of Pool Five in the Challenge Cup with a 20-9 victory over Benetton at The Stoop.

In freezing conditions and with the rain lashing down for the entire 80 minutes, it was never going to be a classic but Quins did enough with two first-half tries to secure the win.

As they did the week before in Treviso Harlequins dominated the early passages of play and were rewarded after seven minutes when Lewis Boyce went over for his second try of the season from close range.

James Lang converted but Benetton ensured they kept in touch with some strong phases and were rewarded with a penalty after 11 minutes with Harlequins penalised for being off their feet. Ian McKinley converted in front of the posts and the visitors looked to be coming into the game. When Charlie Mulchrone was penalised for off-side in front of the posts after 19 minutes the Benetton fly-half was able to put them back to within one point.

Then came Quins’ second try, just when Benetton looked in danger of taking a grip on the game. It started with a Mulchrone kick from his own 22 sent high towards Monty Ioane, who was brilliantly tackled by Francis Saili. His off-load in the tackle fell kindly to Joe Marchant who sped home unchallenged from inside his own half for his seventh try of the season in front of the posts. A simple conversion and the Quins lead was extended to 14-6.

Quins’ lineout was working well and creating chances but the horrific conditions made handling very difficult and a couple of knock-ons and some poor kicking denied the hosts in dangerous positions. Benetton kept themselves in touch with another penalty in the 32nd minute after some sustained pressure saw Quins penalised for Dave Ward coming in at the side.

Moments later Quins thought they had another try when a brilliant quick penalty from Mat Luamanu started an attack that saw first Gabriel Ibitoye, then Lang make breaks before shipping it down the line to Saili, who was unable to control it, and then onto Marchant who sped over to touch down again. But the ball was adjudged to have gone forward from Saili and the try was disallowed. But just before half-time Quins were awarded another penalty which Lang converted to make it 17-9 at the break.

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With the weather worsening in the second half, play became even more fractured and, although Benetton enjoyed much of the territory and possession, they could not find a way past a resolute Quins defence and did not score a point in the half.

The only points of the half were scored by Marcus Smith, on as a Game Changer, in the 68th minute to make it 20-9 and that was enough to see off the match.

The result leaves Harlequins on top of the group and in charge of their own destiny when the Challenge Cup resumes in January.

Big Game 11 is just around the corner. Get your tickets at tickets.quins.co.uk or by calling 020 8410 6010.

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