Racing Metro 8 Harlequins 32 match report: Quins make a Racing start in quest for a good Cup run

Quarter-final place now in sight as Londoners take apart French in four-try demolition

Stade de la Beaujoire

Harlequins have been on an upward curve since their successive Heineken Cup losses in October and they carried that good form back into Europe to blow apart a fancied Racing Metro side yesterday.

The bonus-point win here has propelled Harlequins back into contention for a quarter-final spot, and another fruitful outing at The Stoop next weekend will have Conor O’Shea’s men going into the January outings against Clermont and Scarlets with a lot to play for.

The English clubs may be pulling out of the Heineken Cup but Harlequins showed yesterday what the competition will be missing next season as an expensive Racing Metro side were taken apart.

They moved the match to Nantes and brought a crowd of over 29,000 with them, but they seemed to leave the basics behind in Paris as sloppy handling, dreadful kicking and schoolboy tackling was no match for a Quins side who kept it simple but effective throughout.

Nick Evans kicked for territory when it was required and they were devastating when they put the ball through the hands, with Matt Hopper, Mike Brown and Sam Smith dangerous from deep, while George Robson was thunderous up front in a pack which didn’t take a backward step all evening. The net result was a facile win for Harlequins, with Racing never threatening to come back from a 17-3 interval deficit.

Harlequins laid out their stall early against a Racing side who struggled to get up to the pace being set by O’Shea’s team and the only surprise was that it took until the 20th minute for the visitors to hit the front.

Evans’ influence on the game had been increasing and it was a superb step inside Alex Dumoulin and Wenceslas Lauret which created the opening for the out-half through the middle and he brushed past full-back Juan Martin Hernandez to score under the posts.

He added the routine conversion and Racing Metro were further rattled when his opposite number Benjamin Dambielle, preferred to Jonathan Sexton at out-half, sent the restart directly to touch, a mistake he repeated when Quins got in for their second try.

That came after 31 minutes when Mike Brown and Danny Care combined to send Nick Easter barging through and he escaped Dambielle’s tackle to touchdown.

Evans, who had added a 21st-minute penalty from the right, made no mistake with the conversion to push Harlequins 17-0 in front.

Evans kept Racing penned back with some excellent kicking from the hand and their only threat of a try was a good run by Marc Andreu which ended with a grubber which yielded nothing.

Racing pulled back a penalty on the stroke of half-time when Dambielle landed a penalty from 45 metres on the right, but that was his final act as Sexton was introduced at the break.

But the Parisians just could not get a foothold in the match. Evans increased Harlequins lead with a 40-metre penalty four minutes after the restart and shortly afterwards any notion of a French revival was dismissed.

Hernandez failed to deal with a high kick 35 metres from his own line and the ball bounced kindly for Charlie Walker who collected it and sprinted down the right wing to score. Evans converted from the touchline to make it 27-3.

A superb high Sexton crosskick almost put Juan Imhoff in at the left corner but such moments were far and few between from Racing Metro.

They did manage to get over just short of the hour off a line-out take by Camille Gerondeau which ended with Bernard Le Roux getting the touchdown, but that was their last score as Sexton’s conversion from the right went narrowly wide of the left post.

Racing drafted in Mike Phillips, and the Welsh and Lions star showed great hands to collect a poor pass and counter at speed, but Quins snuffed out the danger.

After that it became a matter of Harlequins trying to get the bonus point an while a couple of line-out drives on the right failed to yield the fourth try, they were rewarded ten minutes from the end on the other side of the field.

Racing were unable to contain the drive from a line-out and it was replacement scrum-half Karl Dickson who got the touchdown to secure what could yet be a decisive point for Harlequins.

Now the focus will switch to The Stoop next weekend and O’Shea said afterwards that he expects Racing to hit back. “There will be a backlash, it is only half-time in this contest. But we are pleased, we played good rugby and got the result but we need to back it up next weekend and give ourselves a chance in the final two games in the pool in January. But we are pleased with this performance,” he said.


Racing Metro: JM Hernandez; B Fall, F Estebanez, A Dumoulin, M Andreu (J Imhoff, 39); B Dambielle (J Sexton 40), M Machenaud (M Phillips, 62); E Ben Arous (D Khinchagishvili, 47), D Szarzewski (V Lacombe, 62), L Ducalcon (B Mujati, 47, Ducalcon, 51)); F van der Merwe (K Fhzal, 22-28, 68), J Kruger; W Lauret, B Le Roux, J Nailiko (C Gerondeau, 47)).

Harlequins: M Brown; C Walker, M Hopper (B Botica, 69), T Casson (T Molenaar, 42), S Smith; N Evans, D Care (K Dickson, 70); J Marler (M Lambert, 70), D Ward, W Collier (P Doran Jones, 56); C Matthews (N Kennedy, 56), G Robson; L Wallace, C Robshaw, N Easter.

Referee: L Hodges (Wales).

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star