Monye fit to fly as Quins find comfort at home
Harlequins 29 Scarlets 24
In chilly conditions apt enough for the Mighty Quinn – he was an Eskimo, you know, in the Sixties song penned by Bob Dylan which gets blared out at every opportunity here – Harlequins scored two tries in each half to see off the Scarlets. The hosts were assured beforehand of winning the Heineken Cup Pool Four and reaching their first quarter-final since 1998 and Leicester's defeat last night ensured Quins would have a home draw.
The mathematics governing the eight qualifiers were not on Ugo Monye's mind when the Quins wing, who was due to join England's flight this evening for a training trip to Portugal, came off after 35 minutes. Monye had executed a perfect chip and chase, outjumping the Scarlets' No 8, David Lyons, but almost immediately he suffered a back spasm. He went off a few minutes later. Dean Richards, Harlequins' director of rugby, said: "It's not my call." Monye said he would be OK to travel.
Richards preferred to talk about his side ending a sequence of four matches without a win since their home-and-away victories over Stade Français in December. "All four of those matches were away, if you include the one at Twickenham against Leicester," Richards said. "We like playing here."
The Scarlets arrived on a run of four wins out of five, but with nothing tangible to play for. Stephen Jones, their captain and Wales's possible fly-half in the Six Nations against Scotland two weeks today, kicked a penalty after 11 minutes when Will Skinner was penalised for not rolling away. Skinner is not in either England squad, but his club-mates Chris Robshaw and Tom Guest are in the Saxons, and therefore in line for promotion during the Six Nations. They might have eyes on the vacancies created by injuries to Tom Rees and Lewis Moody, even if the No 7 jersey appears most likely to be filled by Bath's Michael Lipman or Steffon Armitage of London Irish.
After an equalising penalty by Nick Evans, Robshaw tracked the jinking Tom Will-iams like a faithful labrador and scored in the right corner. Robshaw also showed up well in the line-out and the broken field, and when Guest came on he immediately made a mazy run which led to Harlequins' bonus-point try, scored by Williams in the 66th minute.
In between times Evans converted a try by George Robson, 12 minutes before half-time, when the Scarlets ran out of defenders in a narrow channel and Skinner gave the final pass. Robson's fellow lock, James Percival, followed up Nick Easter's scrum pick-up for Quins' third try, converted by Evans in the 53rd minute. Then the Scarlets gave a glimpse of good, old-fashioned Llanelli handling with tries by Morgan Stoddart – neatly created by Regan King and Jon Davies – and Matthew Rees.
The Williams try and Nick Evans's conversion made it 29-17, and while their names sounded suited to the Scarlets – in fact, they hail from Brighton and Auckland respectively – the last action was genuinely Welsh: Gavin Evans's try was converted by Stephen Jones.
Harlequins: N Evans; T Williams, G Tiesi (D W Barry, 40), J Turner-Hall, U Monye (C Amesbury, 35); C Malone, D Care; C Jones, T Fuga (C Brooker,48), M Ross (M Lambert, 70), J Percival (J Evans, 63), G Robson, C Robshaw (T Guest, 63), N Easter,W Skinner (capt).
Scarlets: C Thomas (M Stoddart, 40); D Daniel, R King, J Davies (G Evans, 73), L Williams; S Jones (capt), M Roberts (G Cattle, 73); P John (I Thomas, 48), M Rees (K Owens, 67), D Manu, V Cooper, D Day, J Turnbull (S MacLeod, 54), D Lyons, D Jones.
Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).
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