Rugby Union: Schuster's Quins alive and kicking

Harlequins 39 Gloucester 7
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The Independent Online
IT IS too early to talk about records, but both Harlequins in general, and John Schuster in particular, are in serious danger of attracting some statistical recognition. Assuming the Londoners beat West Hartlepool at The Stoop this weekend, they will be on a roll of almost unprecedented momentum. Three wins on the trot for the least dependable side in England? Whatever next?

As for Schuster, it would be a shock of seismic proportions if he fails to cement a place in the annals of Premiership goal- kicking. When the former All Black centre narrowly failed to convert Daren O'Leary's blistering finish after half an hour of last night's match with Gloucester, the intake of breath was very sharp indeed. Prior to that marginal miscue, he had fluffed only four of his 42 shots in six competitive outings.

His marksmanship is something to behold; extraordinary as it may sound, he leaves a 170-point a season man like Thierry Lacroix stranded among the excess baggage. Provided Harlequins can put him in range - and on the evidence of last night's high-octane mix of fierce forward- driving and extreme pace out wide, there is no obvious reason for them to fail him - Schuster will provide his employers with a handsome return.

Poor Gloucester were scarcely at the races and Rich-ard Hill, their coach, may now regret inflicting another 80 minutes' activity on a line-up that gave so much of itself in beating Newcastle at the weekend.

Schuster had already caressed three penalties between the posts when O'Leary cottoned on to an interception opportunity and covered the 50 metres to the line in double-quick time.

Chris Wright, hyperactive at scrum-half, burrowed over for a second try 15 minutes into the second half and there were others for Dan Luger and O'Leary again, interspersed only by a shock Gloucester penalty try.

Harlequins: Tries O'Leary 2, Wright, Luger; Conversions Schuster 2; Penalties Schuster 5. Gloucester: Try penalty try; Conversion Mannix.

Harlequins: J Williams (V Going 72); D O'Leary, D Officer (P Mensah, 72), J Schuster, D Luger; T Lacroix (capt), C Wright; J Leonard, K Wood (C Ridgeway, 70), A Yates (G Yelpin, 57), G Llewellyn (B Davison, 70), G Morgan, R Jenkins, Z Brooke, A Leach.

Gloucester: C Catling (R Greenslade-Jones, 79); A Lumsden, T Fanolua, R Tombs, P Saint-Andre; S Mannix (M Kimber, 79), I Sanders; T Woodman (A Window, 60), C Fortey (N McCarthy, 49), A Deacon, M Cornwell (R Ward, 74), D Sims (capt), E Pearce (S Devereux, 60), S Ojomoh, N Carter.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).