Harlequins vs Wasps - Good Evans, Consistency at Last
By Bedfordshire Boy
May 3 2017
Two very strong looking sides lined up under the lights at The Stoop with everything to play for with Quins needing a win to keep alive their chance of making sixth place in the Premiership and a place in next seasons Champions Cup with the prize for Wasps being an almost certain home draw in the end of season play offs.
Bit of a rarity to see Quins able to field an unchanged side for two games running to yet another Stoop sell out. Quins were led out by Nick Evans to a rousing reception playing his last scheduled Quins home game in his career, great things were hoped for from the home crowd, especially as The Stoop has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Wasps in recent years. Interesting to note that Quins have now managed seven match sell outs this season which is some achievement for a team playing well below its potential.
From the kick off it was clear that Quins were very much up for this game as they ran the ball at Wasps at every opportunity in the early minutes but a combination of loose play and the Wasps defence saw each attack break down. Having said that, Wasps were no better at looking after the ball and all of the play during the early period seem to be played between the two 22 lines. It was eleven minutes before the first score and this was three points from the boot of Nick Evans as Wasps were penalised at a line out for Launchbury contacting Horwell in the air.
A couple of minutes later Gopperth had the chance to level the scores from a penalty but uncharacteristically he pulled the kick wide of the posts. Quins continued to press a sluggish looking Wasps side and could have scored when Joe Marchant created a chance for Marland Yarde who unfortunately failed to take the offload for what should have been an easy run in to the try line. In the event it was Wasps who were to score the first try of the evening when Gopperth took a high ball from a kick by Mike Brown and ran through the Quins defence. With just Mike Brown to beat Gopperth passed the ball to Dan Robson who although initially brought down by a tap tackle by Tim Visser, managed to scramble the ball over the line. A straightforward conversion by Gopperth brought the score to Quins 3 Wasps 7 after 25 minutes.
Starting to get the feeling that it could be one of those nights as Quins yet again go behind having had the majority of possession and attacking play – moral is “kick and chase” doesn`t work if nobody chases! The game continued to be played at pace by both teams who were both guilty of losing or kicking the ball away at crucial times. An injured Danny Care sporting a new hairstyle is replaced by Karl Dickson after about 25 minutes, another great servant to the club playing his last ever scheduled home game. A few minutes later Christian Wade gets the ball for what I think was the first time in the match but even he seems to have caught the knock on disease. On 28 minutes Nick Evans kicks to the corner from a penalty but Wasps easily defend the attempted catch and drive.
Another seven minutes pass before we are to see any change to the score when a high tackle on Charlie Matthews by lock Myall allows Nick Evans to slot home is second goal of the match to bring the score to Quins 6 Wasps 7. Another infringement by Wasps gives Evans another chance to add to the score but the ball goes wide of the posts from a kick close to the touch line. Just before the break, Gopperth puts in a speculative chip kick which he attempts to chase but is stupidly blocked by Kyle Sinckler. With penalty awarded where the ball landed, Gopperth has fairly run of the mill kick in front of the posts to bring the half time score to Quins 6 Wasps 10. A first 40 minutes pretty much dominated by Quins over a below par Wasps side who still went into the break four points ahead, all of this has a familiar ring to it.
It`s more of the same at the start of the second half although Wasps seem to be playing with more intensity and a kick through by Daley is touched down by Mike Brown to keep Quins in the match. Next up is probably the turning point of the whole match. With the ball bobbling all over the place with neither team able to create a clear cut chance, it eventually comes to Nick Evans who throws a long pass to Robshaw which Curtley Beale fails to intercept by millimetres. As it happens, Chris Robshaw is able to make headway well into the Wasps half, draws the attempted tackle by Gopperth and make an inch perfect pass to Tim Visser to run in for Quins first try of the game. Nick Evans easily adds the two extra points so Quins go three points ahead of Wasps after 46 minutes with a noticeable easing of the tension of the Quins supporters.
The restart by Gopperth goes into touch on the full to give a resurgent Quins a scrum restart and go back onto the attack. This really is pulsating stuff with the crowd getting noticeably edgy yet again but there is some relief on 51 minutes when Quins are awarded a penalty for a high tackle on Jamie Roberts. Yet another faultless kick from Evans takes Quins six points ahead of the opposition with 28 minutes still to play. Once again the restart is taken by Tim Visser who loses the ball but Wasps are forced into touch and from the line out Rob Buchanan makes ground to the halfway line but is not well supported. Shortly after, Nick Evans makes a classy break but as he is not supported either he is penalised for holding on. The resulting penalty gives Wasps a line out on the Quins 22 allowing them to go through the phases before Luke Wallace forces the turnover and Nick Evans clears the ball into the Wasps half.
Quins are given another scoring chance following yet another penalty conceded by Wasps. A neat chip over the Wasps defensive line by Karl Dickson results in a yellow card to the Wasps full back Le Roux as he takes Marchant out in the air as he takes the ball. Another successful kick by Evans, Quins 19 Wasps 10 as the clock moves towards the final quarter of the match. A couple of silly misdemeanours by Quins leave them under unnecessary pressure. First of all a Wasps penalty is moved forwards ten metres for backchat and then a Quins penalty is reversed for a bit of an off the ball scuffle involving Kyle Sinckler. Wasps take full advantage and after their catch and drive is brought down by Quins, Gopperth scores three points off the tee from the second penalty to reduce their deficit once more to six points with seventeen minutes left on the clock. Rob Buchanan and Kyle Sinckler are replaced by Joe Gray and Will Collier followed a few minutes later with Mullan, Robson and Bassett being replaced by McIntyre, Simpson and Cipriani.
With Quins pressing and with Brown and Visser going close a break in play sees the return of Le Roux which is followed by yet another penalty to Quins as the Wasps defence are caught off side. Nick Evans adds three more points to his tally for the evening and at long last Quins are ahead by more than a single score after 69 minutes with James Horwell being replaced by George Merrick. Quins are really on top now and testing the Wasps defence to the limit when on 72 minutes Joe Marchant shrugs off a Goppreth tackle 20 metres out only to be brought down literally inches from the try line. Once the heap of players had been sorted out Wayne Barnes had no hesitation in putting his hand in his pocket and showing a yellow card to Wasps captain Joe Launchbury. Three more points for Nick Evans with seven minutes to go takes the Quins lead to an unassailable (?) 12 points as Alofa Alofa replaces Jamie Roberts. I think the home support was just beginning to feel that Quins might just win this although Wasps beginning to look more dangerous with Cipriani on the pitch. Even so Quins continue to press and on 79 minutes Dave Ward (on earlier for Mat Luamanu) picks up the ball on the edge of ruck, slips the ball to the impressive Joe Marchant who runs in unopposed to score under the posts. This sets up the perfect finale for Man Of The Match to take his personal score to 22 points before being replaced by Tim Swiel and leave the pitch to a well deserved standing ovation. Quins easily take take the ball from the restart and go through a few phases until the clock counts down to 80 minutes allowing Tim Swiel to boot the ball into the stand, final score Quins 32, Wasps 13.
I had this match down as a win for Quins and expected Wasps to score more points but Quins never allowed them to get into their stride. You could see from the outset that this was a game that Quins were determined to perform well in and I thought Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler in particular were well fired up, the difference between them being that Joe has learned how to channel it more effectively. This was a good all round team performance with the difference between this and the last home game being that we played for the full eighty minutes and probably had the rub of the green at one or two crucial times. Karl Dickson did everything asked of him, and more, when called into the fray (nothing new there) and how people can question Mike Browns commitment to the club is beyond me. Another good shift from the centre pairing (how long before Joe Marchant is a regular in the England set up?) and as usual Yarde and Visser were all over the pitch looking to get involved -were the orange clad group of supporters the South Stand part of the Tim Visser supporters club from Holland? The Quins pack more than held their own, although the rolling maul seems to have got less effective as the season has gone on, with special mention to Rob Buchanan who seems to have cemented his place as number one hooker.
The final word must go to Nick Evans who has been a tremendous player for the club and had an inspired performance showing off all of his world class skills, he will be sadly missed next season. Not only Man Of The Match but Man Of The Last Decade!pqs: qs:
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.
No doubt see you at Saints
In Block 28 with that man from the New Forest.
Think we are in amongst the Saints supporters, but about 15 of us,heading to Foundrmans pre game