Rugby Union: Grecian the equaliser

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The Independent Online
Harlequins. . . . 22

London Scottish. .22

THIS result probably condemns both sides to a long winter's struggle to avoid one of the four relegation places, and, to be honest, on this evidence they deserve no better.

It is perhaps churlish to complain about the quality of a match that, despite being played in a chilling wind, and occasional squally showers, produced five tries, but it has to be said that, in between the moments of excitement, much of the play was scrappy, niggly and of little obvious purpose.

The start was promising enough. Quins, with Peter Winterbottom prominent, set up second and third-phase possession, and Mark Evans punched a hole in the Exiles' defence and fed his fellow centre, Will Carling, who was able to cross unopposed for his first try of the season after just 30 seconds.

For the next 20 minutes, though, the game subsided into sterility in which the only constant factor was the frequent sound of the referee Bertie Smith's whistle.

It seemed that every ruck and maul ended with an infringement.

Perhaps appropriately, neither side could make much of the resulting penalties. Challinor failed three times for Harlequins before Thresher took over and extended the home side's lead.

Appleson succeeded with his second attempt to score the Scots' first points, and the full-back was unlucky not to be awarded a mark when he made a good catch in front of his own posts.

Instead the referee gave Quins a five-metre scrum after Appleson had been driven over his own line, and the No 8 Chris Sheasby went over for Harlequins' second try.

Another incisive break by Evans, who also looked solid in defence, created try No 3 for Mike Wedderburn, and with Thresher adding two conversions the home lead at half-time was 19 points.

But, with the wind in their favour, the Exiles made early inroads into that advantage. A concerted forward drive left Damian Cronin the task of falling on the ball for the try, and when Nick Grecian kicked a long-range penalty with 25 minutes remaining, the lead looked far from secure.

It was another 16 minutes, though, before Scottish mounted another sustained rolling maul, which ended with Derek White scoring; and with Grecian kicking another penalty, Quins were condemned to a final five minutes of what should have been desperate defence.

They turned it into high farce. First Harriman carelessly knocked on in his own 22.

Scots tried to move the ball from the subsequent scrummage, but made no progress and conceded the put-in to Quins, who promptly collapsed the second scrum in front of their own posts. It was the last kick of the match but Grecian could not miss, and did not.

Harlequins: S Thresher; A Harriman, W Carling, M Evans, M Wedderburn; P Challinor, R Glenister; J Leonard, N Killick, A Mullins; N Edwards (M Hobley, 66 min), A Snow, M Russell, P Winterbottom (capt), C Sheasby.

London Scottish: M Appleson; N Grecian, M Sly, R Eriksson, L Renwick; R Cramb (capt), D Millard; D Denham, B Gilchrist, P Burnell; R Scott, D Cronin; N Provan, I Morrison, D White.

Referee: B Smith (Ireland).

Scores: Carling (try, 1 min) 5-0, Thresher (pen, 16 min) 8-0, Appleson (pen, 18 min) 8-3, Sheasby /Thresher (try/con, 27 min) 15-3, Wedderburn /Thresher (try/con, 38 min) 22-3, Cronin (try, 46 min) 22-8, Grecian (pen, 55 min) 22-11, White (try, 71 min) 22-16, Grecian (pen, 76 min) 22-19, Grecian (pen, 80 min) 22-22.

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