Rugby Union: Fiery Moore ignites sluggish Quins

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The Independent Online
Harlequins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

West Hartlepool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

THE aristos of English rugby finally dealt with the rough new arrivals from the North - but not with enough quality to dispel ideas of fading glory.

Harlequins have had a miserable start to the season while West Hartlepool have barnstormed their re-entry to the First Division. At The Stoop yesterday the posh boys triumphed, on points if not in style. Harlequins were not quite the city slickers they like to think they are, but neither were they the city slackers their detractors had taken a delight in taunting them.

A bare tally of five penalties and an untidy try did little to convince that Quins really have shaken off the sluggish ways that have virtually seen hopes of winning the league disappear with the season barely up and running.

It is true there was some new-found resolution in their play, and a bit of fire ignited as ever by hooker Brian Moore. But beyond that there was little flair on show. Perhaps Harlequins will perform their usual trick of shining in the Cup even as they flounder in the League.

Their sole try was a scrappy affair: centre Gavin Thompson put the ball up in the air, and as it bounced and bobbed on the ground, it was gathered by flanker Justyn Cassell, who barged over. West's try was scarcely more elegant. After a string of close encounters near the line, scrum-half Derrick Patterson passed wide for centre Paul Hodder to squeeze over.

By that time it did not matter because of the nine-point cushion Harlequins had by half-time. Paul Challinor had taken all the kicking chances offered while Kevan Oliphant, the West full-back, had squandered the ones that came his way.

Throughout, the Northerners gave the occasional lesson in keeping the ball alive. Patterson, the effervescent scrum- half, was the spearhead, linking well with a lively back row.

West found themselves up against a solid if unspectacular defensive wall, strengthened by Harlequins' new-found grit. The London side might have been without the star quality of the injured Will Carling in the centre, but they gained in the sheer solid defensive abilities of centres Jeff Alexander and Gavin Thompson. And in the pack, Moore inspired all around him.

Harlequins: W Greenwood; J Keyter, G Thompson, J Alexander, D O'Leary; P Challinor, R Kitchin; J Leonard, B Moore (capt), A Mullins, B Davison, T Coker, R Jenkins, J Cassell, C Sheasby.

West Hartlepool: K Oliphant; G Evans, P Hodder (capt), A Elwine, D Cooke; J Stabler, D Patterson; D Rusby, S Mitchell, M Shelly, J Dixon, K Westgarth, R Wainwright (M Emerson, 19), A Brown, M Watson.

Referee: C White (Gloucester).