Harlequins 40-13 Exeter, Aviva Premiership, September 25
Quins crush Exeter
September 25, 2010
Harlequins' George Lowe is taken down by Exeter's Tom Johnson and James Scaysbrook
© Getty Images
Harlequins crushed Premiership new-boys Exeter with a bonus-point 40-13 victory at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.
Former New Zealand fly-half Nick Evans kicked 20 points without missing for the hosts who also ran in four tries. Exeter may feel aggrieved with referee Sean Davey, who showed yellow cards to scrum-half Haydn Thomas and lock James Hanks, one exactly ten minutes after the other, which meant Exeter played a quarter of a game a man short.
Newly-promoted Exeter, boasting two wins from the first three Aviva Premiership games in their history, arrived brimming with confidence, something their hosts found more difficult to generate after collecting three points from as many games.
Quins took the initiative from their own kick-off and earned a penalty for offside in the first minute, steered home without fuss by Evans. Within a minute, Evans pinned the visitors back again this time with an accurate kick from hand and it was clear that Exeter had been caught cold.
Their problems increased when No.8 James Phillips was helped off after only six minutes with an ankle injury to be replaced by Chad Slade. And the pressure told when Quins were awarded another penalty by referee Davey which Evans again dispatched with seven minutes on the clock.
It took Exeter nearly ten minutes to get some decent ball they could run and when they did Quins promptly went offside and conceded a needless penalty - precisely what they were criticised for by their coaches during the week. The prolific Gareth Steenson made them pay with a precise finish.
Now it was Harlequins' turn to defend which they managed well against some swift handling and strong running by Exeter, looking more assured as soon as they got on the scoreboard. The home coaching team were bristling when Exeter were gifted another penalty for offside but this time Steenson's ambitious effort struck a post.
The fly-half did not have to wait long for another shot at goal as Harlequins were penalised for going offside in front of their posts. Steenson's kick leveled the scores on 23 minutes. Less than two minutes later Evans completed his hat-trick of penalties as Exeter strayed offside in front of their posts again.
Harlequins launched a fine attack in the 31st minute with Evans sparking a succession of phases that ended in No.8 Nick Easter crossing from close-range. Evans converted the try. Exeter ended the half strongly forcing Quins to produce a number of big tackles to keep their opponents at bay. But referee Davey hammered Exeter penalty-wise in the second-half, sending scrum-half Thomas to the sin-bin for not retreating at a penalty. Lock Hanks was yellow-carded for the very same offence seconds before Thomas was due to come back.
In between, Evans, comfortably the best player on the pitch, arrowed over his fifth kick out of five and also converted calmly from the touchline when wing Gonzalo Camacho thundered in on the left for Quins' second try.
The penalties kept coming as Exeter, now forced to play 20 minutes a man short, struggled desperately to stem the tide. When awarded yet another penalty, Harlequins elected for a scrum, not least because Hanks was missing, and one huge push later Exeter caved in on their line and referee Davey awarded a penalty try. Evans converted.
Tom Guest added his side's fourth try 14 minutes from the end before Mark Foster crossed the whitewash four minutes later to give Exeter a consolation score.