Harlequins 23 London Irish 9 match report: Nick Evans lifts untidy Quins’ play-off hopes

Sam Smith crossed in the 70th minute to score the match-deciding try

Twickenham Stoop

Few sides turn down a conversion, so it illustrates the value Harlequins place upon bonus points at this vital stage of the season that they did so here. Their third try came with four minutes remaining, so they spurned the touchline attempt in the hope of scoring a fourth try and picking up the extra point which, in the final reckoning, could be the difference between winning a play-off place or not.

Harlequins are involved in a pitched battle with Sale Sharks and Bath for fourth place when the regular Aviva Premiership season ends, and have still to play both those rivals in their remaining four fixtures. If nerves are shredding, then it showed yesterday in a mess of a game when neither side could sustain any fluidity whatsoever.

“The standards we set ourselves are better than that,” Conor O’Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby, said. “The breakdown was frustrating beyond comprehension throughout the game. If you get the scores, the confidence floods through, the team picks up hence the last ten minutes when the shackles come off.”

The game was littered with more stoppages, scrums and penalties than you might expect in the depths of winter. Moreover, if London Irish, who have nothing to play for but pride, had taken their chances, Harlequin nails might have been down to the quick by the end.

James O’Connor, having floated three penalties down the wind in the first half, missed into the breeze with a fourth which would have given his side the lead, and Marland Yarde – not for the first time in the match – tossed a pass anywhere when greater accuracy might have brought a try. Given that Yarde received a second-half yellow card and Topsy Ojo knocked on with the line at his mercy in the opening minutes, it was not a great day for the visiting wings. And in the end the class of Harlequins emerged.

Nick Evans, collecting his own chip ahead, scored and converted the first try and kicked two penalties either side of half-time, the second after Yarde’s dismissal for deliberately knocking a floated pass into touch. Time was running out when Nick Easter carried a maul infield and Danny Care’s long pass allowed Sam Smith to squeeze over; Mike Brown muscled through for a third try but, in truth, Harlequins did not deserve a fourth.

Line-ups:

Harlequins: M Brown; O Lindsay-Hague, M Hopper, J Turner-Hall, S Smith; N Evans; D Care; J Marler, D Ward, K Sinckler (P Doran-Jones, 67), N Kennedy (C Matthews, 65), G Robson, L Wallace (T Guest, 57), C Robshaw (captain), N Easter.

London Irish: J O’Connor; T Ojo, F Mulchrone, T Fowlie (A Lewington, 67), M Yarde (sin bin 51-62); S Geraghty (captain), T O’Leary (D Allinson, 49); M Parr (J Yapp, 56), J Stevens (M Mayhew, 56), J Hagan (L Halavatau, 49), I Gough (G Ellis, 62), N Rouse, J Sinclair (J Harris, 69), B Cowan, O Treviranus.

Referee: A Small (London).

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments