Harlequins beat Wasps in Coventry, ending their 22 month unbeaten record in the league at the Ricoh. Plenty of talking points arose from Quins 21-24 victory.
Harlequins victory over Wasps in the final matchup of the weekend was a scrappy affair. Referee Andrew Jackson issued three yellow cards to James Haskell, Kyle Sinkler and Danny Cipriani.
The most prevalent of which was Haskell’s sin binning. The indiscretion involved a tussle with England and Lions teammate Joe Marler (see below). Despite being separated, Haskell retaliated to Marler spraying him with water by grabbing the Quins prop around the neck. Jackson decided the retaliation required an upgrade from a penalty to a yellow card.
Whether you agree with Jackson’s sanction or not, the former Wasps skipper lost control of his emotions, costing his side.
Injuries to Reider and Guy Thompson in addition to Haskell’s card will have added heavily to the Wasps pack’s workload. With players forced to play the full 80 and down a man twice, the Coventry side were not able to showcase their usual attacking dominance.
Wasps began in their usual fashion, through a well worked Christian Wade try. Wade and Willie Le Roux combining superbly to take the lead following a penalty apiece for both sides. It was following this score that tempers rose, turning the match into a rather scrappy affair. Wasps made more errors in attack then we have grown accustomed to seeing, from the attack minded side.
Without influential playmaker Jimmy Gopperth; who has been invaluable to Wasps, meant Cipriani was forced into a guiding role. His injury forced absence was noticeably missed. Had his organisational presence been in the Wasps side, it may have been enough to claim their third straight victory.
Marcus Smith Continues to Justify England Squad Call-up
With Wasps fondness of a high tempo, open game, the stop-start nature of the match played into Harlequins hands. ‘Quins Marcus Smith made the most of the one man advantage. The young fly-half found space for a cross field kick to Mike Brown, who knocked the ball infield for Marland Yarde to score.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) September 17, 2017
Smith was the architect of everything good about Harlequins attack, pulling the strings more effectively than the widely praised Danny Cipriani. In a ‘Man of the Match’ performance, his distribution, kicking for territory and identification of space will hearten both Harlequins and England fans.
Despite his small stature he stood up in defence and held his nerve. Which is all the more impressive against the likes of Haskell, Ashley Johnson, Nathan Hughes and Joe Launchbury, all of whom take no prisoners in their love of the rough stuff. With his confidence high, Smith continues to deliver, a bright future lies ahead for this 18-year-old.
Harlequins Back On Track After Season Opening Loss
After their opening loss to London Irish, this victory over Wasps is a feather in Harlequins cap. The Quins side will be proud to have ended Wasps 22 month home record. With Demetri Catrakilis out injured with a fractured throat bone, Smith has big shoes to fill following Nick Evans retirement.
Showing maturity and patience, if he can back up these performances and keep kicking at today’s fabulous 83% success rate, Smith may follow a similar path to the likes of Owen Farrell and George Ford.
Charlie Walker, Mike Brown and Marland Yarde (see main picture) made the most out of the ball Smith supplied them with. Wasp’s back three are rarely beaten in total running meters–but this week, Harlequins got that particular accolade.
Harlequins beat Wasps, and that was with 14 men on the field for much of the time too. The London team need to take their momentum from this match into the rest of the Aviva Premiership season.
Wasps on the other hand head into next weeks away game at Exeter with even more reason to step up to the plate. Damaged from this weekend’s close loss, they now are set to meet the leagues most southern club for the first time since losing that extraordinary final in extra time. It will be interesting to see how the Dai Young coached side reacts.
Be sure not to miss top of the table clash, next Sunday 3pm.
“Main picture credit”