Harlequins 17-10 Wasps, Aviva Premiership, January 8
Quins hang on to defeat Wasps
January 8, 2011
Wasps No.8 Andy Powell crashes forward during a Man of the Match display
© Getty Images
Harlequins took further strides up the Aviva Premiership table with a gritty 17-10 victory over London rivals Wasps at the Stoop on Saturday.
Quins did the damage in the opening period with tries to Joe Marler, Mike Brown and Nick Easter and produced a stirring defensive effort in the second-half to deny Wasps a share of the spoils despite the visitors dominating territory and possession. Their sole try went to winger Richard Haughton.
Wasps dominated the opening stages with England centre Riki Flutey, playing at fly-half after missing the autumn Tests with a calf injury, Andy Powell and Richard Birkett, returning in the back row for his first match since October, all prominent. They pounded away but a well-drilled Quins defence soaked up all the pressure before the home side took the lead against the run of play.
In Harlequins' first significant attack, winger Tom Williams was stopped just short after influential former New Zealand fly-half Nick Evans hoisted a kick to the corner. But, moving the ball quickly from right to left, Quins created space for Marler to charge over and dive in near the flag.
Wasps hit back to take the lead five minutes later when full-back Mark van Gisbergen timed his run perfectly to link up as the extra man in the three-quarter line and provide the final pass which sent right wing Haughton racing in for a try converted by Van Gisbergen.
Harlequins responded with a wave of attacks which ended when scrum-half Danny Care, looking to regain his England starting spot from Ben Youngs, moved the ball quickly from the base of a ruck to put Brown over in the left corner.
Evans converted to increase their lead to 12-7 and Harlequins went further ahead three minutes before half-time when Easter drove in through a crowd of players as Wasps defended desperately on their own line.
The visitors made a quadruple substitution nine minutes into the second half, with scrum-half Joe Simpson and regular goal-kicker Dave Walder, both rested from the starting line-up, replacing Nic Berry and Flutey while props Tim Payne and Zak Taulafo gave way to Charlie Beech and Ben Broster. The changes gave Wasps a new impetus and, even though Walder missed two penalties, he confidently struck the third in the 61st minute to reduce the deficit to seven points.
With Wasps enjoying a new lease of life, Harlequins were again forced into a rearguard action but their well-drilled defence held out as the over-anxious visitors, left with a losing bonus point, lacked the final attacking precision to make the breakthrough in a hectic finish.
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