Quins earn their stripes against hapless Zebre

Zebre 14 Harlequins 57

stadio XXV aprile

Harlequins remain on course for top spot in Heineken Cup Pool Three after a comprehensive victory over Zebre in Parma. The Premiership pace-setters ran in eight tries to secure a winning bonus point.

Sam Smith scored a brace with Nick Easter, Matt Hopper, Rob Buchanan and Ben Botica also among the tries for Connor O'Shea's high fliers, who also managed two scrum penalty tries.

The most Zebre could manage on a bitterly cold day was a first-half breakaway try by Leonardo Sarto and a late consolation for Alberto Chillon.

With Biarritz losing to Connacht on Friday night, Quins' destiny now lies in their own hands and victory in next week's return against Zebre will effectively seal their passage through to the quarter-finals.

Harlequins were good value for their win and barely had to break sweat for some of their tries. The first came for Smith on 26 minutes, a routine dash for the corner after the home defence had been stretched on the back of a Maurie Fa'asavalu turnover.

Evans converted, adding to an earlier penalty, and already it looked as though the game was up for a desperately limited Zebre side, who failed to get out of their own half in the opening half hour. Things went from bad to worse for the hapless Italians when serial offender Mauro Bergamasco was sent to the sin-bin for a ruck offence.

With that it looked as though the floodgates would open, and Smith helped himself to a second try after linking superbly with Tom Williams. Again Evans converted to leave Quins 17-0 up and coasting.

It was Zebre who struck next though, Sarto racing away after one too many passes cost Quins as they looked for their third try.

It was shortlived joy for Zebre, who were back to square one within three minutes of the restart. Easter bagged Quins' third try after the visiting forwards wrestled the home pack into submission.

Danny Care, Matt Hopper and Mike Brown all went close to adding a fourth, but it was the forwards that made it, forcing a penalty try after dominating the home scrum.

They would do so again later in the half as Zebre went into meltdown, and sandwiched in between was a fine individual try by Hopper, who showed great footwork to outmanoeuvre the home defence.

He was eclipsed shortly after, however, by substitute prop Buchanan, who scored with practically his first touch after another irresistible attack by rampant Quins.

A late try by Chillon proved scant consolation for a disillusioned Zebre, and it was left to another substitute, Botica, to wrap up the scoring.

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea refused to get carried away with his side's demolition job, rejecting the notion that it sends out a message to the rest of Europe.

"It's one of those ones where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said the former Ireland international. "Of course there is ambition in the club, but people will write today's result off as irrelevant. And they are more than entitled to do just that.

"All we can do is to continue playing as a team, and make sure we are in control of our own destiny. When we lose games we don't get carried away, and it's the same when we win. It's about being in with a shout come April and May.

Easter was thrilled by his first try of the season. "It was about time for me," he said with a smile. "People had been getting on my case about it."

Zebre Trevisan (Ferrarini, 48), Venditti, Pratichetti, Garcia (Chillon, 69), Sarto, Orquera, Tebaldi, Aguero (Buso, 48), Festuccia (Redolfini, 48), Ryan (Perugini, 48), Geldenhuys, Sole (Caffini, 69), Cattina (Giazzon, 48), Bergamasco, van Schalkwyk.

Harlequins Brown (Dickson, 65), Williams, Hopper, Casson, Smith, Evans, Care (Buchanan, 65), Lambert (Marfo, 65), Gray (Botica, 65), Johnston, Kohn, Robson (Trayfoot, 70), Fa'asavalu, Wallace, Easter (capt).

Referee Neil Paterson (SRFU).

Harlequins

Tries: Smith (2), Easter, Penalty try (2), Hopper, Buchanan, Botica

Cons: Evans (6),Botica

Pens: None

Pen: Evans

Zebre

Tries: Sarto, Chillon

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific