Rugby

Harlequins keep hopes alive

2013-12-15 17:43
Danny Care (AFP Photo)

Paris - Harlequins stayed in the hunt for a place in the European Cup quarter-finals while effectively knocking big-spending French side Racing-Metro out of contention on Sunday with a clinical 17-3 victory in London.

Harlequins win completed the double over Racing-Metro, who at least could console themselves with a more whole-hearted performance than the limpid one in the 32-8 drubbing they took in Paris last Saturday.

Harlequins trail Pool 4 leaders Clermont, who have 15 points, by four points with two games remaining while Racing-Metro are joint bottom with Welsh outfit Scarlets on six points.

Racing had shown their intent to try and turn things round by making 14 changes to their starting line-up.

Among those to come in were several international heavyweights with Jonathan Sexton being paired for the first time with Mike Phillips while the latter's compatriots Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate also lined up.

Harlequins eased into a 6-0 lead thanks to two penalties by Nick Evans and the French side were reduced to 14 men when prop David Khinchagashvili punched Joe Marler and was fortunate to escape just with a yellow card from Alain Rolland.

'Quins thought they had taken immediate advantage of his sin-binning when Evans went over after a brilliant move down the left involving him and Charlie Walker but the video referee ruled that Mike Brown had knocked on earlier in the play.

Evans missed a penalty chance as the game neared the end of the first quarter but the 33-year-old former All Black fly-half made no mistake with another attempt to give them a 9-0 lead after 25 minutes.

The hosts scored a much deserved try on the stroke of half-time as the dynamic 20-year-old Walker raced through to touch down and although Evans sent the conversion wide they went to the changing rooms 14-0 to the good.

Evans was unable to retake the field after the break -- he had taken a heavy knock midway through the first-half but soldiered manfully on -- and was replaced by Ben Botica, who slotted over a penalty in the 52nd minute to make it 17-0.

Sexton -- who had missed a penalty attempt in the first-half -- finally got Racing-Metro on the board with a penalty as the clock ticked onto the hour mark but was replaced soon afterwards by Frenchman Jonathan Wisniewski.

Racing pressed for a late try but their efforts were summed up as centre Henry Chavancy knocked on metres out with the line beckoning.

Read more on:    harlequins  |  racing metro  |  heineken cup  |  rugby
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