Battling Harlequins fall short

By Rory Poulter

8th Feb 2022 | Local Sport

Credit: JMP/Juan Gasparini for @harlequins.
Credit: JMP/Juan Gasparini for @harlequins.

A tough start for Harlequins saw the visitors make the most of a deleted home team, with Sale wing Tom Roebuck claiming a brace of scores within the first 22 minutes.

With fly-half AJ MacGinty kicking both conversions and an earlier shot at the posts, Quins found themselves leaking penalties and handling errors whilst staring down a 17-0 deficit.

As Quins looked to find a foothold, Sale struck for their third try. With hooker Jack Walker penalised for a crooked throw at the lineout on his own five metre line, Sale took the quick tap penalty to send Scotland international Ewan Ashman over the line from short range to take the lead to 22 points.

A frantic period of play with the clock in the red before the break saw possession swap hands multiple times deep within Sale's 22.

As possession returned to Quins hands after Sale attempted to run the ball out for a final score of the half, Arron Reed lost possession and allowed Quins to storm back towards the Sharks' try line to send second row Hugh Tizard over under the posts for the Club's first points of the day. Standoff Tommy Allan added the conversion to bring his side into the game for the first time of the day.

Despite some early promise in attack at the start of the second half, Quins continued to make life hard for themselves. With further unforced errors killing momentum and handing possession back to Sale, the men from Manchester capitalised on Quins' inconsistency, sending outside centre Rob du Preez over for the fourth and bonus-point score. MacGinty added the conversion, restoring their 22-point lead.

Harlequins' coaching staff turned to the bench in hopes of arresting Sale's momentum, with two Premiership debutants in prop Mak Wilson and second row Matas Jurevicius amongst the changes.

Allan was the man to put the Londoners back on the scoresheet. After a sustained period of pressure that saw forward runners assault the Sale line, the Italian international glided through a hole down the left flank for Quins' second try of the day. Converting his own score, Allan reduced the deficit to 15 points with just over a quarter of an hour to play.

Rob du Preez dashed any hope of another late Quins comeback with his second and Sale's fifth try, with a clever chip over the heads of the Quins defence from a lineout deep in Harlequin territory.

MacGinty provided the final points of the afternoon in South West London, with Harlequins suffering back to back defeats in the league.

Final score: Harlequins 14 – 36 Sale Sharks

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