Harlequins gave their hopes of qualifying for next year’s European Rugby Champions Cup a boost with a dramatic win over Gloucester Rugby at the Twickenham Stoop.
An Ollie Lindsay-Hague score when the Cherry & Whites had two in the sin bin sealed the vital win for the Londoners who also scored tries through Marland Yarde and Charlie Walker, Nick Evans adding 14 points from the tee.
Greig Laidlaw kicked 11 points and this was added to by scores from Charlie Sharples, Bill Meakes and Dan Robson for Gloucester.
Quins stay eighth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and still have hopes of a European Champions Cup qualification spot if they can close the four-point gap on Sale Sharks, who currently sit seventh but travel to London Irish tomorrow.
In the opening ten minutes Harlequins’ set-piece came under thorough investigation, especially the scrum at which Gloucester were dominant despite not turning pressure into points.
And the Cherry & Whites were to rue an early missed penalty as Quins grabbed the opening score.
Danny Care flung the ball left off first-phase and the slick hands via Aseli Tikoirotuma put speedster Walker into space and he finished with aplomb from just inside the Gloucester half – Evans missed the conversion.
Nevertheless the visitors continued their assault on Quins’ pack, drawing a penalty which Laidlaw duly landed to close the gap.
Quins continued to play fast and loose and their speed afforded them a penalty soon after, when Gloucester looked to slow things down at the breakdown – Evans converted.
But almost as soon as he had Laidlaw hit straight back with a penalty of his own narrowing the gap to two once again.
Quins’ response was not to curtail their attacking instincts and a driving maul brought another penalty which Evans hit with ten minutes to go in the half.
Then the home side shot themselves in the foot. Walker dropped the kick-off, Laidlaw fed James Hook from the scrum, he jinked through the first tackle and provided the pop to Meakes who bundled over for his first Aviva Premiership score.
With Laidlaw adding the extras Gloucester had the lead for the first time.
Referee Luke Pearce soon had enough of Quins’ lack of competition in the scrum and captain Joe Marler was sent to the bin three minutes before the half’s close.
Despite the numerical disadvantage Quins won the penalty at the scrum when the Cherry & Whites were sniffing for another try – they cleared to end the first-half action.
Quins did not concede while Marler was off but as soon as he returned Sharples extended Gloucester’ lead.
The visitors drew in the numbers in midfield before shipping it out to the wing where Sharples dived over for his fifth of the league campaign. Laidlaw missed the conversion.
No lead was safe in this game though and Evans replied straight away with a penalty from the right to reduce the arrears to four.
And the former All Black fly-half took Quins within a single point with another shot from the left side of the posts.
Jack Clifford was then adjudged to have taken out Sharples late following the winger’s clearance kick and Laidlaw hit the resulting penalty.
Quins then laid seige to the Cherry & White line, setting two driving mauls – the first of which brought a yellow for Ross Moriarty and the second, when Quins spun it left drew a deliberate knock-on and 10 minutes in the bin for Sharples.
A third drive was then set with Gloucester down to 13 and this drew the all-important try – Yarde at the bottom of a heap of bodies to take Quins into the lead – Evans missed the conversion from the touchline.
Gloucester, with two in the bin, condeded again, this time Lindsay-Hague latching onto an Ugo Monye offload to speed home – Evans adding two.
But Gloucester were not finished – Dan Robson crossing over but Hook missed the conversion and Quins saw out the last knockings.