Harlequins cruise past Cardiff Blues in Challenge Cup

Rob Buchanan on the charge for Harlequins

Harlequins held off a late charge from Cardiff Blues to win their European Rugby Challenge Cup Pool 3 match 34-26 at the Twickenham Stoop.

The result means that Harlequins are now guaranteed a home quarter final when the tournament reaches the play off stage in April as they have played five matches and won all with bonus points.

Harlequins built up a 28-0 lead by half time but in the second half they could only add another two penalties while Cardiff responded by scoring 26 points.

A Rob Buchanan try kicked off a first-half blitz for Harlequins, before England squad members Marland Yarde and Jack Clifford went over. Ross Chisholm wrapped up the bonus-point before half-time, and Quins were cruising.

But the Blues bounced back in the second period. Dan Fish scored a double to add to tries from Wales stars Cory Allen and Lloyd Williams to claim a try scoring and losing bonus-points, but a last second Ben Botica penalty meant they left the Stoop with only a single bonus-point.

It did not take long for the hosts to stamp their authority on proceedings. Danny Care took a quick tap penalty after a dominant scrum and was stopped just short, before hooker Buchanan burrowed over. Nick Evans converted for a 7-0 advantage after five minutes.

The flying start continued for Quins, and it was their man of the moment Clifford who bagged their second score. The England squad new-boy splintered off a driving maul to crash over, with Evans on-target again to add the extras.

The third try followed soon after, and it was another of Eddie Jones’ England inclusions. The home side rumbled down the field again where they were met by some brave Blues defence, but their resolve was finally broken by flying wing Yarde, who went over from close range. And the bonus-point was wrapped up on half-time when Evans delivered a well-weighted kick to wing Chisholm.

Cory Allen finally got the Blues on the board when he cut a devastating line to crash over just after the break. And the visitors were back in it with half-an-hour remaining. The Blues stretched the home defence before swinging the ball wide to Fish, who dived in at the corner. Lloyd Williams was next to go over for the Welsh region as he spotted a gap, before a sublime pass by Patchell found Fish for the bonus-point score.

Final Score Harlequins 34 (28) Cardiff Blues 26 (0)

Scorers

Harlequins
Tries – Buchanan, Clifford, Yarde, Chisholm
Pen – Evans, Botica
Con – Evans (4)
Drop –

Cardiff Blues
Tries – Allen, Fish (2) , LI WIlliams
Pen –
Con – Patchell (3)
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Mark Patton (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Jonathan Peak (Ireland),
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland),
Citing Comissioner: Yann Le Dore (France)

Teams

Harlequins: Mike Brown; Marland Yarde, George Lowe, Jamie Roberts, Ross Chisholm; Nick Evans, Danny Care (c); Joe Marler, Rob Buchanan, Will Collier, George Merrick, Charlie Matthews, Chris Robshaw, Jack Clifford, Nick Easter

Replacements: Joe Gray, Mark Lambert, Kyle Sinckler, Mat Luamanu, Luke Wallace, Karl Dickson, Ben Botica, Charlie Walker

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Rey Lee-Lo, Tom James; Rhys Patchell, Lloyd Williams (c); Sam Hobbs, Kristian Dacey, Tau Filise, Macauley Cook, James Down, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Manoa Vosawai

Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Tom Davies, Dillon Lewis, Jarrad Hoeata, Ellis Jenkins, Tavis Knoyle, Gareth Anscombe, Gavin Evans

With thanks to EPCRugby

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