Harlequins earn bonus point Cardiff Challenge Cup victory

Tim Visser makes a break to score Harlequins opening try

Harlequins earned their second European Rugby Challenge Cup bonus point victory by beating Cardiff Blues 20-32 at the Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday.

Harlequins outscored their hosts by four tries to two which earned the English side the bonus point and their fourth try, scored by Danny Care, cost Cardiff a losing bonus point.

Two tries in as many minutes set Quins on course early in the second half after trailing 6-3 at half-time.

Tim Visser raced clear from an interception before Ollie Lindsay-Hague followed. Charlie Walker added a third while Cardiff replied through a late Sam Hobbs try despite a red card for veteran hooker Matthew Rees for stamping on Nick Easter late on.

Conor O’Shea’s bold move to rest several key players paid off though he may have regretted giving Chris Robshaw the evening off.

For starters Cardiff’s latest young openside product, Ellis Jenkins, dominated the breakdown after replacing his mentor Sam Warburton, who withdrew through illness.

Worse still for Quins was losing two back-rows inside 30 minutes. James Chisholm limped off with an ankle injury.

Jack Clifford was then carried off, while taking oxygen, after he was knocked clean-out in a clash of heads with Jenkins. By then Patchell had already kicked Cardiff into an early 6-0 lead after Lloyd Williams came within inches of squeezing over close to the posts.

Botica replied at the second time of asking though promising breaks by Nick Easter, Charlie Walker and Matt Hopper went unfinished. Trailing 6-3 at the break, Harlequins came storming out of the blocks to lead 20-6 within 11 minutes of the second-half.

Botica converted a second penalty after another strong burst by Dave Ward before Quins then twice caught Cardiff in two minutes.

Visser anticipated Kristian Dacey’s delivery, plucked the ball from Josh Turnbull’s grasp and then fended off Blaine Scully with a strong arm to race clear from 50 yards out.

No sooner had Botica converted from in front of the posts than he was slipping an inside pass for Lindsay-Hague to score from a classic counter-attack. Walker latched onto Care’s break though Cardiff earned a penalty try when Quins dragged down a lineout drive 11 minutes from time.

Replacement Rees got his marching orders on 74 minutes yet Cardiff still scored next when prop Hobbs crashed over from close range in the final minute. Cardiff were set to launch a final bid at an unlikely win only for Care to slip away from a ruck to score unopposed in injury time.

Final Score Cardiff Blues 20 (6) Harlequins 32 (2)

Scorers

Cardiff Blues
Tries – Penalty, Hobbs
Pen – Patchell 2
Con – J Evans 2
Drop –

Harlequins
Tries – Visser, Lindsay-Hague, Walker, Care
Pen – Botica 2
Con – Botica 2, Swiel
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France),
Assistant ref: Laurent Cardona (France),
Assistant ref: Arnaud Blondel (France),
TMO: Jean-Marie Piraveau (France),
Citing Commissioner: Francesco Grillo (Italy)

Teams

Cardiff Blues:

Blaine Scully; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Gavin Evans, Tom James; Rhys Patchell, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins (c), Kristian Dacey, Tau Filise, Jarrad Hoeata, James Down, Ellis Jenkins, Sam Warburton, Josh Turnbull

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Sam Hobbs, Dillon Lewis, Lou Reed, Manoa Vosawai, Tavis Knoyle, Jarrod Evans, Dan Fish

Harlequins:

Ollie Lindsay- Hague; Charlie Walker, Matt Hopper, Harry Sloan, Tim Visser; Ben Botica, Karl Dickson; Mark Lambert, Rob Buchanan, Kyle Sinckler, Charlie Matthews, Sam Twomey, James Chisholm, Jack Clifford (c), Nick Easter

Replacements: Joe Gray, Joe Marler, Will Collier, Kieran Treadwell, Dave Ward, Danny Care, Winston Stanley, Tim Swiel

With thanks to EPCRugby

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