Marler mauls Wasps as Quins win thriller

Harlequins 17 London Wasps 10: Promising prop leads the way in last London derby before trip to Abu Dhabi

What, you wonder, are these two clubs doing so wrong that they have to take their next encounter to Abu Dhabi. The marketing men have the answers, of course, but nothing beats a superbly contested game of rugby such as the one that was enjoyed by a capacity crowd here yesterday.

When the dust settled, Harlequins had vaulted to fourth in the Aviva Premiership, the play-off place which is the ambition of all. They also had the unmitigated satisfaction of having beaten Wasps for the first time since November 2008. When you consider the tradition of this fixture, much of it begrimed with local niggle, this was the best possible advertisement for English rugby in 2011. A wonderful first half in which all four tries were scored – including one which may well be the team try of the season – could not be sustained but that was no surprise in such heavy conditions.

The decision making and ambition of both sides and the sympathetic refereeing of Wayne Barnes made for a remarkable midwinter spectacle. And when they had to defend, Harlequins did not lose any stature at all: they spent virtually the entire second period in their own half but they restricted Wasps to a single penalty.

Barnes, England's leading referee, awarded only two penalties in the first half, in which there were seven line-outs and five scrums. That is testament to the time the ball was in play and the patience with which Harlequins, in particular, sustained their attacks.

"We're where we want to be," said Conor O'Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby. That was not a claim he could have made a month ago, when his club were eighth and developing a reputation for an inability to close out tight games. "We're in the mix in the LV Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup too and I'm very proud of what the team have shown over the Christmas period," O'Shea added.

Wasps pounded Quins' line in the opening 10 minutes, but the home team conceded no penalty and forced the first in the series of turnovers that marred Wasps' game. That was the worst Wasps failing.

Joe Marler started and finished the first Quins try, taking a clearance around halfway and prompting a wave of attacks and a dart by the influential Nick Evans that took the game into the Wasps 22. Tom Williams was inches short of the line from Danny Care's cross kick but good hands gave Marler, a loosehead prop who is interesting England, a chance to cross on the left, through the tackles of Richard Haughton and Steve Kefu.

Haughton then showed the more conventional skills of a wing, finishing good work by Riki Flutey and Mark van Gisbergen. Flutey, an England centre playing fly-half, showed great appetite in attack but like his colleagues found himself struggling to keep up with the breadth of the Harlequins attack.

The game's first scrum did not come until the 27th minute, and with it came the game's first penalty. The second Harlequins try was another fine effort,starting with Jordan Turner-Hall's ability to keep his feet in the tackle and finishing when Mike Brown timed his run superbly to take Care's short-side pass and score in the same corner as Marler. But it was the third Harlequins try that should be played to the Abu Dhabi audience before the two clubs meet in the LV Cup there on 30 January. It started with a turnover 80 metres from the Wasps line, but so swift were tight forwards like George Robson to lend support that play swept to the other end and Brown was all but over before Nick Easter forced a try which needed confirmation from the video official.

If Harlequins had hopes of a fourth try and a bonus point after the interval, they soon faded. The Wasps scrum gained the upper hand as Charlie Beech and Ben Broster proved quite capable of matching the home props and the academy flanker Sam Jones filled in on the wing when Kefu was forced off by injury. But a lack of composure, together with scrambling defence from Harlequins that was so well marshalled by Chris Robshaw, left Wasps with no more than a losing bonus point. They will think they deserved more, but Harlequins have left their generosity in 2010.

Harlequins M Brown; T Williams (T Masson, 67), G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; N Evans, D Care; J Marler, J Gray (C Brooker, 37), M Lambert, O Kohn (T Vallejos, 61), G Robson, T Guest (W Skinner, 55), N Easter, C Robshaw (capt).

London Wasps M van Gisbergen; R Haughton (D Lemi, 57), B Jacobs (capt), S Kefu (S Jones, 61), T Varndell; R Flutey (D Walder, 49), N Berry (J Simpson, 13-23; 49); T Payne (C Beech, 49), T Lindsay, I Taulafo (B Broster, 49), M Veale, J Cannon, R Birkett, A Powell, S Betsen.

Referee W Barnes (London).


Tries: Marler, Brown, Easter

Con: Evans

London Wasps

Try: Haughton

Con: Van Gisbergen

Pen: Walder

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice