Guinness Premiership - Game of the Week
Superb Quins power past Bath
April 4, 2009
Danny Care powers forwards for Harlequins at the Rec
© Getty Images
A superb defensive effort from Harlequins saw them blunt Bath's attack and pick up a vital 19-3 win at the Rec. Dean Richards' men, top at the start of the day, proved their Guinness Premiership play-off mettle with an intelligent and powerful performance.
The game exploded in to life, with several tasty exchanges in the opening minutes. Bath showed their attacking prowess early on with Shontayne Hape and Alex Crockett linking well to scythe through the Quins midfield.
Bath fly-half Butch James missed an early shot at goal before the Quins pack drew first blood at scrum-time, Ceri Jones and Mike Ross winning a penalty in front of the posts. Chris Malone obliged.
The Quins back-row has the rule of the roost in the early stages, snuffing out breaks from Duncan Bell and Joe Maddock as Bath enjoyed large periods of possession. Bath wing Matt Banahan was also guilty of some poor passing and decision-making as several early chances went begging.
Quins punished the home side to the full when they were awarded a penalty try by referee Dave Pearson. After a sublime break from wing David Strettle Quins set up camp five metres from the Bath line, and proceeded to pile the pressure on the Bath eight. Mike Ross had Bath's David Barnes in all sorts of trouble before Pearson had enough, signalling for the penalty try.
Bath looked to play with pace and width in the second period, but they found the Quins defence as firm as ever. Maddock looked dangerous throughout but with their attacks inevitably petering out, James' appalling game with the boot cost them dear as time progressed.
The Springbok missed two simple attempts either side of a sin-binning for Quins prop Mike Ross, meaning that Bath's salvation had to lie in scoring tries. No matter how hard they pressed the Quins defence, their resolve held firm. As James' confidence disappeared and Bath lost their structure, Danny Care added insult to injury with a timely drop-goal for a 16-3 lead.
Maddock looked to have prised open the visitors' defence on 70 minutes, but after his offload found James Scaysbrook the Quins back-row was again imperious in turning over possession. Bath huffed and puffed through the closing stages, with fullback Nick Abendanon crossing the line only to be held up by Malone, but it was Quins who had the final say. A final five-metre scrum after a break from replacement Tom Williams allowed them the chance to run the clock down and every passing second served to emphasise their semi-final credentials.
Bath: Nick Abendanon; Joe Maddock, Alex Crockett (capt), Shontayne Hape, Matt Banahan; Butch James, Scott Bemand; David Barnes, Lee Mears, Duncan Bell, Justin Harrison, Stuart Hooper, Andy Beattie, James Scaysbrook, Jonny Faamatuainu
Replacements: Rob Hawkins, Aaron Jarvis, Peter Short, Chris Goodman, Mike Baxter, Shaun Berne, Andrew Higgins
Harlequins: Mike Brown; David Strettle, Gonzalo Tiesi, De Wet Barry, Ugo Monye; Chris Malone, Danny Care; Ceri Jones, Gary Botha, Mike Ross, James Percival, George Robson, Chris Robshaw, Will Skinner, Nick Easter
Replacements: Tani Fuga, Mark Lambert, Jim Evans, Tom Guest, Andy Gomarsall, Waisea Luveniyali, Tom Williams