Harlequins began to put a poor season behind them with a bonus point victory at home to Sale in a 51-23 victory. Paul Gustard’s first match in charge could hardly have gone better with Quins looking sharp in attack and improved in defence. There were some notable performances from the home side and some forgettable ones for Sale who lacked precision and sorely missed their creative spark Faf de Klerk. Here are the LWOS player rating for Harlequins vs Sale Sharks.
15. Aaron Morris – 8/10 – The former Saracen justified his selection ahead of Mike Brown in the fifteen jersey with a strong attacking performance. His counter-attacking helped create a try for fellow former Saracen Nathan Earle.
14. Nathan Earle – 8/10 – Earle shone on debut showing off his powerful and pacey running game. Early signs are a big season awaits the talented 23 year-old who kick-chased especially well throughout.
13. Joe Marchant – 8/10 – Another impressive performance from try-scorer Marchant, with a standout moment coming when he took an outstanding catch flying through the air from a Harlequins kick-off, earning his side a penalty.
12. Ben Tapuai – 9/10 – The former Wallaby could not have had a better debut. His elusive footwork beat six defenders and earned him two tries. It was a refreshing change from the hard and very straight lines of Jamie Roberts. Tapuai’s distributing game will be a weapon for Quins throughout the season.
11. Mike Brown – 6/10 – Shunted out to the wing with little effect. Brown was the quietest of Harlequins’ outside backs and it will be interesting to see if wing becomes his permanent position.
10. Marcus Smith – 8/10 – Smith carried on from where he left off last season. He attacked the line with the ball in hand looking a constant threat and picking holes. Smith also looks to have added a couple of metres to his kicking off the tee in the offseason.
9. Danny Care – 8/10 – A strong performance from Care who box kicked well throughout. His best moment came with a lovely delayed pass behind the back of a Sale defender to put Smith under the posts.
- Joe Marler – 7/10 – Strong in defence and robust in attack. A typical Marler performance.
- Elia Elia – 7/10 – The Samoan threw well at the lineout, which was an improvement in an area Harlequins have struggled. Elia Elia carried well in the wider channels and could well be the first choice hooker for the season ahead.
- Will Collier – 8/10 – A very impressive performance from the twice-capped England international. Collier was the key cog in a dominant Harlequins scrum and he defended well putting in a couple of big hits. He was not removed until after the 75th minute which says it all.
- Matt Symons – 6/10 – A solid showing from the sizeable lock on debut.
- Dino Lamb – 6/10 – Unfortunate for Lamb who was injured in the 14th minute after being handed a big opportunity by Gustard.
- Chris Robshaw – 7/10 – Robshaw was tireless as ever, carrying hard and hitting ruck after ruck. He managed to get one notable turnover penalty.
- Luke Wallace – 7/10 – A busy performance from Wallace who was a key link man in Harlequins attack.
- Renaldo Bothma – 6/10 – Industrious performance from the Namibian. Strong in defence, slightly less effective in attack.
- Max Crumpton – 7/10
- Mark Lambert – 6/10
- Phil Swainston – 6/10
- Ben Glynn – 6/10
- James Chisholm – 7/10
- Charlie Mulchrone – 6/10
- James Lang – 6/10
- Paul Lasike 7/10
15. Byron McGuigan – 5/10 – Fumbled a couple of balls at the back. An unconvincing performance at fullback which could be a long-term issue for Sale with Ashton’s ban and potential call-ups for international duty.
14. Denny Solomona – 6/10 – A quiet game from Solomona who saw far less of the ball than his fellow Sale winger.
13. Sam James – 5/10 – Another quiet performance. James bought a dummy from Morris and was left for dead in the move that led to the Earle try.
12. Luke James – 6/10 – Some strong carries from James who out-performed his older brother. However, Tapuai’s footwork got the better of him on a couple of occasions.
11. Marland Yarde – 8/10 – An impressive return to the Stoop for Yarde who made 94 metres with ball in hand, more than anyone else on the pitch. The England winger was a constant threat and scored a well-deserved try.
10. AJ MacGinty – 8/10 – MacGinty went well in the season opener. He kicked well off the tee and got himself a try. But still outshone by young Smith.
9. Will Cliff – 7/10 – Provided reasonable tempo for the Sale attack but did nothing more than the basics. Quietly effective.
- Ross Harrison – 7/10 – The best of the Sale front-five on the day. Physical throughout especially in defence. Struggled slightly in the scrum.
- Rob Webber – 6/10 – Average showing from the experienced hooker.
- WillGriff John – 6/10 – Held his side of the scrum better than Harrison but did little of note around the park.
- Bryn Evans – 6/10 – Another quiet performance from a quality performer.
- James Phillips – 6/10 – A typically physical performance from the bruising Phillips. He was always a handful for the Quins’ defence to bring down.
- Tom Curry – 6/10 – The England flanker was injured very early competing for a ball in the air. The incident looked fairly serious and is a worry for Sale and England alike.
- Ben Curry – 6/10 – Curry worked hard in defence completing twelve tackles but did not have the overall effect on the game he would have liked.
- Jono Ross – 7/10 – Ross was strong throughout but made a couple of errors missing three tackles. Robshaw got the better of him in one version of the battle for the England number six jersey.
- Cameron Neild – 6/10
- Alexandru Tarus – 6/10
- Joe Jones – 6/10
- Josh Beaumont – 7/10
- Josh Strauss – 6/10
- Gus Warr – 6/10
- Mark Jennings – 6/10
- Paolo Odogwu – N/A
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