Danny Care touches down for Harlequins against Gloucester
23 November 2013, 04:56 pm ::
By Steve Bond
Harlequins 27 Gloucester Rugby 19
Harlequins stormed to a third successive Aviva Premiership win as England internationals past, present and possibly future ensured Conor O'Shea's men continued their march up the table.
After a disastrous start to the new campaign; number eight Nick Easter and scrum-half Danny Care, who both touched down, dragged Quins to a much-needed win at the Stoop after a shaky start saw Billy Twelvetrees score early for Gloucester against the run of play in the corner.
Gloucester have slipped to three successive Premiership defeats since their victory against Newcastle at Kingston Park in September, and that statistic showed little sign of changing as Kiwi Nick Evans knocked over a first minute penalty for Harlequins.
Gloucester's win at Newcastle two months ago remains their only away victory in any competition since February - but England centre Twelvetrees - fresh from starting all three autumn internationals for Stuart Lancaster's men - touched down after nine minutes to turn the tide the way of the Cherry &Whites.
Unfortunately fly-half Freddie Burns - another man involved with the England squad in the autumn - missed his conversion to put Gloucester 5-3 ahead.
Buoyed by the home crowd the complexion of the first half changed following a yellow card shown to Jimmy Cowan for a cynical challenge.
The departure of prop Nick Wood due to a blood injury after 11 minutes disrupted the Gloucester set piece and handed the momentum back to Harlequins - who have climbed the table in recent weeks with wins over Sale and champions Leicester Tigers - as Evans slotted over his second penalty of the afternoon on 15 minutes.
Celebrating their 50th anniversary at the Stoop; Easter ensured it was party time in Twickenham ahead of the break as he went over for a Harlequins' try on the half hour, with Evans adding the extras to make it 13-5.
And it got worse for Gloucester six minutes later as Care - eager to demonstrate to England boss Lancaster he's not the third ranked No.9 in the country - went over for a score on 36 minutes.
Evans added the extras as Quins stormed into a 20-5 lead and with just three minutes to the break the home side looked out of sight.
On the stroke of half-time Burns had the opportunity to reduce the deficit for Gloucester but the fly-half fluffed his kick at goal.
Gloucester's Tom Savage was needlessly yellow carded two minutes into the second-half, handing Quins the numerical advantage - and they took full advantage.
Just a minute later Wallace went over for Harlequins' third score of the game - again Evans added the extras to extend the home side's advantage to 27-5.
Martyn Thomas was the third Gloucester player to be sin-binned on 48 minutes but rather than see the Cherry and Whites press the self destruct button, it seemed to galvanise them.
Jonny May scored a try for Gloucester on 50 minutes and Burns reduced the deficit further for the visitors by kicking the conversion.
George Robson was the next to go into the sin bin, for Quins this time, and his disappearance left the door open for a Gloucester comeback in the final stages.
Twelvetrees scored his second of the game six minutes from time to give the Cherry and Whites late hope - Burns added the conversion to make the score 27-19.