Harlequins raise standard as Cardiff wilt

Cardiff 24 Harlequins 53
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The Independent Online
The half-time admission by a Cardiff diehard that the Quins were in a different class may have been inspired by their sparkling fourth try on the stroke of the interval, but it was chillingly accurate.

Unfortunately for Welsh rugby, it had been a similar case at Swansea the previous week and the London club look odds on to make it an impressive treble when they meet the reigning Welsh champions, Neath, in the first- team competition, the Heineken European Cup.

This may only have been the fledgling Anglo-Welsh tournament, but the Quins' director of rugby Dick Best made it clear to his players that he wanted them to shed "the fancy Dan image" that some Welsh fans still held of the London club. They certainly laid that misconception to rest with this skilful and thoughtful demolition job.

By comparison, Cardiff, who started with six internationals and ended with seven when David Young was introduced after 48 minutes, were totally inept behind and physically inferior up front. The Quins looked like the new professionals they now are, while Cardiff were a rabble.

Any thoughts the home fans had of seeing the Quins robbed of their 100 per cent record this season began to fade as early as the second minute when the wing Mike Corcoran opened his account with a penalty. By the end, he had helped himself to 23 points.

By half-time, four tries had flowed the visitors' way to give them a 31-point advantage. The impressive and powerful centre pairing of Peter Mensah and Jason Keyter grabbed one each, outside-half Paul Challinor got another and Corcoran chipped in with one.

Cardiff were marginally less inept in the second half, and helped themselves to three tries, but all the polish came from the Englishmen.

The magnificent Mensah grabbed his second try of the night, minutes after the prop Phil Booth had opened Cardiff's account with a try that epitomised the gulf between the two teams.

A Cardiff attack had reached the Quins' 22, but they lost the ball yet again and Simon Owen ran 30 metres before sending Mensah racing the remaining 50.

Cardiff: Tries Booth, Williams, Treharne; Conversions Jarvis 3; Penalty Jarvis. Harlequins: Tries Mensah 2, Challinor, Keyter, Corcoran, Connolly, Kitchin; Conversions Corcoran 6; Penalties Corcoran 2.

Cardiff: I Jones; N Walker, L Davies (D Williams, 65), G Jones (H Taylor, 78), S Hill; L Jarvis, B Treharne (G Downs, 77); P Booth (D Young, 48), P Young, L Mustoe, K Stewart, D Davies, M Bennett, O Williams (capt), J Ringer (L Jones, 33).

Harlequins: G Connolly; M Corcoran, J Keyter, P Mensah (N Walshe, 60), J Williams; P Challoner, R Kitchen; A Ozdemir, H Brown, A Mullins (capt), A Snow (I Desmond, 49), Glyn Llewellyn, I Pickup, M Watson (I McLaughlin, 77), S Owen.

Referee: R G Davies (Dunvant).