Botica the difference as Quins get sweet revenge

Connacht 22 Harlequins 30

The Sportsground

Harlequins gained revenge for last season's Heineken Cup exit, but they were made to battle all the way at the Sportsground in Galway by a brave Connacht side.

In the end, the class and experience of the Premiership champions secured a hard-earned win which keeps Quins top of Pool Three and on course for a quarter-final spot, with back-to-back matches against inexperienced Italian side Zebre to come in December.

These two sides managed only 17 points between them when they clashed in the wind and rain in Galway in January, but there were 43 points on the scoreboard by the interval on a dry evening here.

At one stage Connacht surged 10 points clear with the wind behind them, but Harlequins hauled them back and posted 15 points in the final 10 minutes of the opening half.

The English champions kept ball in hand and built the phases well, but Connacht, as Harlequins discovered when they were knocked out in January with that 9-8 result, can make the most of limited possession to frustrate their opposition. That was illustrated with a possession statistic after 14 minutes which showed Quins had 85 per cent of the possession – but still trailed 10-6.

Ben Botica continued his fine form from last weekend with a fifth-minute penalty but his side were rocked a minute later when Dan Parks put Dave McSharry through from 25 metres for a try which Parks converted.

The former Scotland player continued to direct operations for Connacht, putting his scrum-half Kieran Marmion away with another excellent line-break which yielded another penalty, as Parks made it 16-9 after 25 minutes after Botica had pulled back a couple of penalties for Quins in response to another Parks effort.

Fetu'u Vainikolo cut a good break through the Quins defence for a 28th-minute penalty opportunity which made it 19-9, and the home crowd warmed themselves up for another shock win.

But Quins didn't panic. They continued to build the phases, going lateral and making the hard yards and, inevitably, they got over on the half-hour when scrum-half Danny Care broke on the blindside off a scrum in the 22 to score.

They surged forward after that and while Jordan Turner Hall was held by a desperate home defence, Care sniped off the ruck to score his second try. Botica added the points from the conversion this time and also landed a penalty on the stroke of half-time to send them in 24-19 to the good.

Early second-half pressure saw Parks reduce the deficit to two with his fifth penalty. But Conor O'Shea's men refused to panic, and while their possession game rarely Botica extended the lead with a 50-metre penalty after 56 minutes to restore their five-point lead.

He pushed them outside of losing bonus-point territory for Connacht when he landed his sixth penalty of the night, this time from 45 metres, to make it 30-22 after 63 minutes, with their capitain Chris Robson leading the way as Quins closed out the game.

Connacht R Henshaw; T O'Halloran, E Griffin (M Fifita, 65), D McSharry, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; D Buckley (B Wilkinson, 64), A Flavin (J Harris-Wright, 64), N White (R Loughney, 68); M Swift (E McKeon, 64), M McCarthy (N Kikora, 76); J Muldoon, W Faloon (J O'Connor, 57), G Naoupu.

Harlequins M Brown; T Williams, M Hopper, J Turner-Hall, S Smith; B Botica, D Care; J Marler, R Buchanan, J Johnson; O Kohn (C Matthews, 73, G Robson; M Fa'asavalu (T Guest, 67) , C Robshaw, N Easter

Referee Jerome Garces.

Attendance 8,500.

Connacht

Try: McSharry

Con: Parks

Pens: Parks 5

Harlequins

Tries: Care 2

Con: Botica

Pens Botica 6

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Sport
sport
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape