Catrakilis strikes decisive blow as Harlequins edge Worcester in Challenge Cup quarter-final
Substitute Demetri Catrakilis’ 77th minute penalty was the difference as Harlequins edged Worcester Warriors 18-16 to make the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
In a tight affair between the two Gallagher Premiership sides at Sixways, the South African’s composed boot was the deciding factor after Ben Tapuai had set up a grandstand finish.
The hosts had previously appeared on course for victory after Bryce Heem and Tom Howe went over for scores either side of half-time, but Catrakilis’ intervention settled matters in a topsy-turvy encounter.
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After a keenly fought opening, it was Harlequins who struck the first blow, Cadan Murley shrugging off three challenges to dot down for a superb individual score.
But buoyed by a vocal home crowd, Worcester roared back into contention, and a period of forward dominance ended with Duncan Weir arrowing a sublime crossfield kick into the hands of the gleeful Heem to finish.
The scores were level, but youngster Marcus Smith’s cool penalty ensured Quins regained the lead heading into the interval.
Once again, however, the momentum swung, right-winger Howe popping up on the left to latch onto Chris Pennell’s grubber-kick and score.
Weir extended the hosts’ lead from the penalty tee on the hour mark – but there was still just five points in it.
And when bruising centre Tapuai reacted first to dot down Danny Care’s kick, the stage was set for a battle of wits between the kickers.
Catrakilis nailed the ensuing conversion, with Weir then retaliating with a penalty as Warriors led by a point with just five minutes to play.
The last word, though, belonged to Catrakilis, the fly-half nervelessly slotting another penalty through the posts with just three minutes left to play to hand his side a semi-final spot.