Quins director rants at quality of refereeing
London Welsh 26 Harlequins 31
Conor O'Shea, the director of rugby of the champions and league leaders Harlequins, launched an impassioned attack on the state of Premiership refereeing after what he said was a baffling display by Llyr ap Geraint-Roberts who, despite his name, is a Rugby Football Union official from Worksop.
"My frustration lies in the same areas as [Leicester's] Richard Cockerill expressed last week," said O'Shea. "It's not just the scrummage, it's backing in at the maul, people not rolling away from the tackle, the tackler not releasing, lazy runners, there was no offside line – everything today, it was incredible.
"I won't say it's as bad as I've seen but you'll go a long way to see worse," O'Shea said.
"I've been saying it a long time behind the scenes," O'Shea said. "But if you're not seeing action, what's the point? All we get is 'you were right, we were wrong'."
London Welsh have a daunting fixture list between now and April, with five away matches and just one at home – but that is the visit of Sale, the bottom club who they lead by 10 points. A win on 16 February would make Welsh as good as safe.
According to their head coach, Lyn Jones, after this comeback bonus point, Welsh are in any case looking upwards at overhauling Worcester, rather than worrying about keeping clear of Sale.
Quins were well on top early on in this game, with two sharp tries by Danny Care and George Lowe, and it seemed just a blip when Welsh, though down to 14 men after a yellow card to their lock Kirell Kulemin, "won" the sin-bin period 3-0. That was from a penalty by Gordon Ross awarded against a Quins scrum motoring forward – the cue for aghast shrieks from the visiting coaches. But Welsh had eked a penalty and free-kick out of the scrum earlier in the half, too, and their Anglo-French-Romanian front row had further success after the break.
When Care tapped a free-kick under the posts in the 39th minute, Welsh tried fair means and foul to get in the way but Chris Robshaw drove over and Nick Evans converted as had done twice before. The absence of the rested Mike Brown and Ugo Monye had not left Quins' back three noticeably underpowered: Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Tom Williams galloped a season's worth of metres until Welsh belatedly got to grips with them.
The home revival began with Ross kicking his second penalty right on half-time, and two more in the third quarter followed by one from Evans. Then Welsh's full-back Tom Arscott and former Quins centre Seb Jewell broke free to make a try for Nick Scott – finding himself facing three front-rowers – that Ross converted.
It needed a fine try with 66 minutes gone, made for Evans by Lindsay-Hague, a 22-year-old some-time England sevens player, interpassing with Care's replacement Karl Dickson to secure both a bonus point and settle Quins' nerves.
But five minutes after Evans' conversion, Welsh were in again when Ben Botica, just on for Evans, threw an interception try to Ed Jackson. A comfortable 21-3 to Quins had become 31-26 and something akin to an exercise in hanging on.
Scorers: London Welsh: Tries Scott, Jackson; Conversions Ross (2); Penalties Ross (4). Harlequins: Tries Care, Lowe, Robshaw, Evans; Conversions Evans (4); Penalties Evans. London Welsh: T Arscott; D Caprice, S Jewell, S Parker, N Scott; G Ross, R Lewis (T Keats, 50); F Montanella, N Briggs, P Ion (J Tideswell, 54), J Mills (capt), K Kulemin, E Jackson, M Hills (G Bateman 67), A Balding (M Corker, 71). Harlequins: O Lindsay-Hague; T Williams, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, S Smith (M Hopper 18-30); N Evans (B Botica, 71), D Care (K Dickson, 56); J Marler (M Lambert, 58), J Gray (R Buchanan, 62), J Johnston (W Collier, 71), C Matthews (S Twomey, 69), G Robson, T Guest (L Wallace, 52), C Robshaw (capt), N Easter. Referee: L Apgeraint-Roberts.
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