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Report: Harlequins ship 33 unanswered points against Bath but cling on to victory

Harlequins hold off a late Bath resurgence to claim victory 40-36 at The Stoop, moving them into fourth in the Gallagher Premiership.

Tries from André Esterhuizen, Marcus Smith, Louis Lynagh, Alex Dombrandt and Will Evans gave Harlequins a commanding 33-3 lead at the break, before Esterhuizen scored again after half-time creating a 37-point cushion.

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However, Bath bounced back brilliantly to score 33 unanswered points, with tries from Will Muir, Alfie Barbeary, Louis Schreuder, Ruaridh McConnochie and Elliott Stooke, but fell just short of victory.

Less than three minutes into the game, Smith put Esterhuizen masterfully through a hole to give Harlequins the lead.

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A Finn Russell penalty gave Bath their first points ten minutes in.

Sublime Smith commanded the game and a sumptuous chip and chase from the fly-half extended the home side’s lead, 14-3.

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After announcing his retirement earlier this week, a textbook Danny Care tap-and-go propelled Quins into action, who took advantage of a disorganised Bath backline and Lynagh went over in the corner for a simple score.

Harlequins secured a bonus point after only half-an-hour when Dombrandt made the score 26-3, diving over from the back of a ruck.

In the dying embers of the first-half, fast hands from Smith created space out wide and Evans scored number five.

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Harlequins’ attacking flair continued as Tyrone Green, Lynagh and Esterhuizen combined on the right wing for the South African’s second of the match, giving Harlequins a 40-3 lead.

After a TMO review, Bath had their first try of the match when Muir powered over in the corner, despite the crowd’s bemusement while watching the review.

The end-to-end spectacle continued into the second-half as substitute Barbeary bulldozed over in the 65th minute; Irné Herbst was sin-binned for sinical play.

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Bath continued to claw back the deficit, making it 40-22, after Louis Schreuder scored under the posts.

Harlequins went down to thirteen with ten minutes to go when Lynagh’s deliberate knock-on stopped a good opportunity, but controversy arose when Herbst seemingly returned early.

Bath made immediate effect of their extra numbers as McConnochie and Stooke both scored to bring Bath just one try away from victory.

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However, it wasn’t to be for Bath and the Stoop erupted as Smith said enough was enough.

Harlequins coach Billy Millard was proud of his team to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Saracens.

He said: “The first half we played some of our best rugby. The second half, the momentum shifted, and they got onto the front foot.

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“This was a crucial five points, and it keeps us up there. We’ve got to keep performing at that first fifty-minute level if we’re going to keep in that top four.”

Bath boss, Johann van Graan said: “Congratulations to Quins, they were better than us across the 80. We needed one more opportunity to get that win but I think the score was a fair reflection of the game.”

However, van Graan was confused around the early return of Herbst but said they will trust the process.

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Harlequins leapfrog Leister, Bristol and Exeter, who face Sale tomorrow, to move into fourth, while Bath retake second in the championship due to their two bonus points.


  • Toby Reynolds

    Toby is the cricket editor at the Sports Gazette. For the last three years, he has been a radio host and podcaster at URN. He also enjoys F1, rugby and football. Having written his dissertation on rugby union salary caps, Toby loves to explore tactical trends and use statistics to back up his arguments, as well as trying to disprove the saying that “stats are for prats”.