Late Smith kick secures Harlequins European winning streak in Cardiff
By Rory Poulter
19th Jan 2022 | Local Sport
Off to a fast start Quins probed early at the Cardiff Arms Park, with Smith finding some early luck stepping inside and accelerating through the Cardiff defence.
Early pressure eventually broke the hosts' defence, with wing Louis Lynagh on the receiving end of a well-weighted cross-field kick from Smith. With work to be done after the catch, Lynagh stepped out to in to evade the defender's attention before accelerating and diving over the line. Smith added the conversion to make Lynagh's score worth the full seven.
Cardiff replied with some attacking rugby of their own. Counterattacking from within their own half before spreading the ball right to find wing Owen Lane. The physical outside back burst through Quins' fringe defence, sprinting clear to claim his side's first score. Lane's fellow Wales international Jarrod Evans slotted the conversion to bring scores level.
Rey Lee-Lo was the next Cardiff back to find open grass, this time down Quins' right flank. The Londoners brought down the Samoan international just short of the line but were penalised five metres from their own line. Cardiff opted for the pick and go, eventually seeing number eight James Ratti wrestle his way over as the Welsh capital side took a seven-point lead once Evans slotted his second conversion attempt.
Camped in Cardiff territory well after the clock went red before half-time, a powerful Quins scrum saw tighthead prop Dimitri Arhip shown a yellow card for repeated scrum infringements.
Quins were quick to make the most of the extra space on the field against 14 men, with Smith sending another cross-field kick to the touchline. Left wing Cadan Murley was the target this time. Despite Murley losing the ball backwards fullback Tyrone Green swooped on the ball before scampering through the opposition's defence to claim a second score for his side. Smith couldn't dissect the posts with his second kick, seeing Cardiff retain a two-point lead at the break.
Six minutes into the second half and Quins were able to breakdown the Cardiff defence once again to claim their third score. The tried and tested combination of Smith and Alex Dombrandt sparked this score. Smith found Dombrandt running a smart inside supporting line, with the number eight breaking clear through the Cardiff defence before drawing his man and sending the final pass to centre Luke Northmore to run in the score. Smith's boot was true this time, handing Quins a five-point lead.
Cardiff returned to Quins' half determined to steal back their lead. With a number of close-range efforts pressuring the away side's line, Dombrandt was shown a yellow card for not rolling away at the breakdown.
Cardiff were not slow in making the most of their one-man advantage, scoring three tries in quick succession and taking the score to 33-19 with just over 20 minuets left for Quins to stage their comeback.
The men from South West London made their first dent in the home side's 14-point lead through a classic sniping score from Care, with the 84-time-capped England halfback peeling off the back of a driving maul deep in Cardiff territory to score. Smith added the conversion, bringing his side back to within seven points of their hosts.
Quins soon returned deep into their opposition's red zone, with immense pressure at scrum time seeing Welsh hooker Kirby Myhill shown the third yellow card of the game.
As Cardiff's scrum continued to crumble, Smith struck off the back of the dominant set-piece, jinking his way through the defence to bundle over for his side's fourth try. The England man converted the score to bring both team's level at 33-all with just four minutes left to play.
Ever the dramatic finish for this Harlequins side, reserve loosehead prop Santiago Garcia Botta secured the game-winning penalty at the breakdown, allowing Smith the chance to kick a penalty at the death to secure the win and the Club's unbeaten run in the Champions Cup so far this season.
Next up, Castres at The Twickenham Stoop as the men in the Famous Quarters look to make it four wins from four in front of a home crowd in South West London.
Final score: Cardiff Rugby 33-36 Harlequins