Harlequins v Edinburgh
Edinburgh Rugby went top of Pool 5 in the European Challenge Cup with a 23-18 victory over Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop.
The victory sees Edinburgh leapfrog today’s opponents in the pool table ahead of the final group stage game against Timisoara Saracens at Myreside next Friday (20 January).
Fraser McKenzie and Allan Dell scored either side of the turn, with Duncan Weir adding 13 points from the boot across the course of the match, while Quins managed to score two late consolation tries to close the final margin to five points despite trailing by 17 with only two minutes left on the clock.
Edinburgh were first on the scoreboard with a Duncan Weir penalty in the 10th minute, before his opposite number, Tim Swiel, replied two minutes later with a successful shot at goal (3-3).
The visitors had a chance to regain the lead on 23 minutes, yet Blair Kinghorn was unable to hit the target with a difficult long-range penalty effort.
However, moments later lock McKenzie hit a lovely line off his second-row partner, Ben Toolis, to break through the defence and cruise in for the opening try of the game. Weir made no mistake with the conversion to extend his side’s lead (3-10).
Weir and Swiel exchanged penalties either side of the half-hour mark to take the score to 6-13 in favour of the visitors. The latter had a chance to reduce the deficit on the cusp of half-time yet failed to hit the mark with his third attempt at goal, keeping Edinburgh’s seven-point lead intact going into the interval.
Half-time: Harlequins 6 – 13 Edinburgh Rugby
Quins were reduced to 14 men on 50 minutes when tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler was shown a yellow-card for an off-the-ball hit on Magnus Bradbury.
The visitors took full advantage of their extra man three minutes later with their second try of the game. Back-row Cornell Du Preez was the catalyst in breaking the initial line of defence and offloading to Hamish Watson, with the back-row duly delivering a wonderfully timed offload to prop Allan Dell, who sprinted in to score under the sticks.
Weir’s successful conversion gave his side a comfortable 20-6 lead after 55 minutes.
Dean was again to the fore on 70 minutes, breaking from a set-piece move to take his side to within metres of the Quins line. In desperation, the home side infringed at the subsequent ruck and Weir added another three points with the boot (6-23).
Quins launched a late foray scoring twice through replacements Mat Luamanu and Joe Gray, yet it wasn’t enough to overcome Edinburgh, who are now in pole position to qualify for a European quarter-final going into the final round of pool games.
Full-time: Harlequins 18 – 23 Edinburgh Rugby