January 17 2012
An efficient and entertaining victory by Harlequins A over Bath United by 34 – 3 secured a bonus point and guaranteed Quins a place in the semi-finals of the Aviva A League. Their opponents will be the Northern Conference winners, Northampton Wanderers.
Harlequins moved smoothly into attack almost from the start, the ball being moved rapidly right along the backs and back left again until a grubber kick, intended for Stegmann to run onto, beat the winger into touch. A penalty for Bath found an excellent attacking lineout position but they offended at the subsequent maul and a good kick allowed Clegg to take play to half way.
A penalty inside the Bath ten metre line gave Clegg his first chance of points, but the kick was wide. So too his conversion attempt following Ross Chisholm’s excellent try a couple of minutes later. A good break from Urdapilleta found Wallace in support and the flankers’ delicate and accurate chip to the wing found Chisholm who powered over.
Then Bath opted to kick to touch rather than kick for the posts when awarded a penalty at a scrum. An excellent kick gave them a lineout on the Quins’ five metre line. They opted to catch and drive and were awarded a further penalty at the maul. This time their kicker, Hainsworth, took the points. Twenty-one minutes into the match Quins led 5 – 3.
Harlequin supporters, with Clegg’s recent goal kicking problems well in mind and emphasised by his two earlier misses, breathed a collective sigh of relief when, following Smith’s fine break that took play to the Bath twenty-two, he successfully slotted the penalty that followed the breakdown.
Then from a lineout in the Bath half, a position set up by good kicking from Clegg, Quins mounted another attack. Quick handling and good running saw Chisholm cross for his second try. Normal service was resumed as Clegg added the extras from the touchline to make the score 15 – 3 with four minutes remaining in the first half.
There was still time for the best try of the evening. A clever reverse inside pass put Sam Smith through the defensive line just inside the Bath half and with two curving changes of direction he went past two defenders to score under the posts in a superb solo effort. Clegg duly added the extras with the last kick of the half to leave Quins leading 22 – 3.
The second half started with Quins clear determination to collect a fourth try and the needed bonus point. Smith appeared to cross a second time but was held up by determined defence. But it was soon apparent that Quins forward dominance would see them home. A series of scrums and penalties saw Bath driven back across their own line on their own ball and as York bent to touch down the referee awarded the penalty try. The simple conversion brought Quins a 29 – 3 lead.
Sam Stuart returned from injury to replace Bolt, a welcome sight. The dominance of the scrum continued and the next series of scrums, despite Quins knocking on when going forward, finally produced a push over try for York. Clegg’s conversion attempt hit the post.
With about twelve minutes remaining on the clock an apparently serious injury to a Bath player as Quins were attacking. Attending to him was clearly going to take time and the temperature was dropping. With the player still receiving treatment the match was ended early. It was at least good to see him recover sufficiently to walk off.