Kacala's crusade

Harlequins 24 Cardiff 27
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AFTER TWO straight League defeats and the loss of prop Jason Leonard for 30 days for stamping, Harlequins might have seen an Anglo-Welsh friendly as a soothing antidote to a troubled start to the season. But these matches clearly mean more to the rebel Welsh sides than their English counterparts and Quins could do little to prevent another morale-sapping defeat.

More than 10,000 spectators turned out to watch Cardiff defeat Saracens at home last week, while barely 2,500 - and a good number of them from south Wales - bothered to make the trip to south-west London yesterday.

Cardiff clearly also had more appetite for the fray in a scoreless first quarter. Their match-winning Polish No 8, Greg Kacala, made two thundering breaks through the midfield and Liam Botham almost went over only for Lee Jarvis to miss a simple drop-goal from the breakdown. The winger Simon Hill did cross the line but was brought back for a forward pass.

Quins spent most of the first half in ragged defence, apart from a five- minute period, which brought them a try and the lead against the run of play. Full-back Daren O'Leary had the first opportunity but opted to run sideways. It took a much more direct run from Zinzan Brooke finally to set up O'Leary for a simple try.

The powerful and committed Kacala was influential again in setting up a deserved first try for Cardiff. This time his break allowed Rob Jones to burst through from the ruck and the scrum-half's chip kick was grounded by Hill.

Quins' game deteriorated still further in the second half as Cardiff's superior play in the loose brought them both a mass of possession and two more tries. Strong running from Kacala again and Botham allowed Mike Rayer to glide over on the overlap, and Jarvis intercepted a hopelessly ambitious Quins' mis-move to sprint 60 yards for the second.

Quins did manage a couple of late consolation tries to give the scoreline a semblance of respectability, but again they in no way reflected the run of play. Hooker Colin Ridgeway was driven over from a line-out and lock Garrick Morgan sprinted clear deep into injury time.

Harlequins: D O'Leary; D Bull (P Mensah 60), D Officer, J Schuster, J Keyter; B Going (S Power 65), N Walshe; D Barnes, C Ridgeway, A Yates (R Nebbett 60), B Davison, G Morgan, G Bibby (T Collier 52), Z Brooke (K Wood 70), A Leach.

Cardiff: C Morgan (M Rayer 71); L Botham, M Hall (G Thomas 55), M Wintle, S Hill; L Jarvis, R Jones; A Lewis, P Young (J Humphreys 63), L Mustoe (D Young 71), J Tait, D Jones (K Stewart 50), O Williams, G Kacala, D Baugh (J Ringer 63).

Referee: D Price (Wales)