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Harlequins 19 Bath Rugby 16

10 May 2014
Harlequins 19 Bath Rugby 16

Nick Evans kicked Harlequins into the Aviva Premiership semi-finals at the expense of opponents Bath Rugby as the Londoners clinched a nail-biting 19-16 victory at the Stoop.

Mike Brown and George Ford scored a try apiece for their sides but Evans edged out the England fly-half from the tee, guiding Quins to a fifth straight Aviva Premiership win and into fourth place, courtesy of having won one more match than Bath this season.

For the second match in a row, Ford scored all of Bath’s points and his 68th-minute penalty brought his side within three points of the play-offs but Quins defended resolutely to book a semi-final away to Saracens next weekend.

Blustery conditions ensured for some fraught opening exchanges as neither side could string together any meaningful possession.

Harlequins were doing their utmost to impose their high tempo game however and it was the hosts who drew first blood.

Just a few metres short of the Bath try-line, Danny Care spun a superb long pass out to Brown who raced over in the left-hand corner on 16 minutes.

Kiwi fly-half Evans landed an expert conversion for a 7-0 lead but just six minutes later, Bath had levelled things up.

No.8 Leroy Houston picked up the ball under pressure at the back of a scrum and made important yards before offloading to Carl Fearns.

He took up the mantle and recycled to Peter Stringer, who fed Ford and he did the rest, dancing through the Quins defence, evading tackle after tackle before going over under the posts in a move very similar to that from which he scored against Northampton Saints last weekend.

Ford slotted the easy conversion but Quins almost responded immediately and again Care was the catalyst.

Picking up from the base of a ruck, he darted towards the line and slung a pass to the supporting Nick Easter only for referee Wayne Barnes, with the help of the TMO, to rule that Care’s pass went forward.

On 32 minutes, Evans had the chance to restore Harlequins’ lead with a penalty but he pushed it wide, although three minutes later he was given another opportunity and this time he made no mistake to send the hosts in at the break 10-7 to the good.

Soon after half-time, Nick Abendanon made a piercing break towards the try-line, capitalising on a slip from Joe Marler, and while he could add the five points, referee Barnes awarded Bath a penalty and Ford levelled things up from the tee.

On 44 minutes, Bath found themselves down to 14 men however when Matt Banahan was sent to the sin bin for being offside and on 51 minutes, Quins were back ahead.

Brown chased his own chip and with penalty advantage, Quins almost forced their way over, only for play to be brought back and Evans to add three from the tee.

On 56 minutes, Evans stretched the lead to six after prop Kyle Sinckler forced Stringer into touch and when Anthony Watson prevented a quick lineout, the penalty was awarded.

With just under 15 minutes remaining, Ford trimmed the gap to three but almost immediately, Evans responded in kind to keep his side six points to the good.

But from the restart, Bath replacement Semesa Rokoduguni won a penalty for the visitors and once more Ford brought his side to within three points on 70 minutes.

Bath could not create the chance they needed and after the clock had wound down, Ford attempted a speculative long distance drop goal which never threatened the posts, ensuring Quins kept their season alive.

For more news, try out Bath Rugby Harlequins Match Report