Round-Up: Quins dig deepest in the mud to earn full marks for effort
Monday 20 February 2012
The Harlequins director of rugby, Conor O'Shea, spoke a great truth about Premiership rugby when he said of his team's narrow and muddy 16-14 scrape past Worcester: "The effort of the guys was outstanding – the precision wasn't – but we won." Such, particularly at the moment, given the weather, is the reality of the English domestic league.
Quins lead it, partly because of their ability to scrap out such wins as Saturday's, by a penalty try and 11 points from Nick Evans to a try by Miles Benjamin and nine points from Danny Gray. Worcester are in the relegation picture, although their coach, Richard Hill, said: "You can see from the way we are playing that we are interested in moving up the table. The teams below us don't concern us in the slightest."
Brave words, particularly when one of the two teams below Worcester, Newcastle (the other being Wasps), managed their third win of the season on Saturday, by 19-10 at home to London Irish. The Falcons survived the dismissal of the lock Adriaan Fondse, for punching Delon Armitage, the oft-cited Exiles full-back who angered Falcons supporters with an apparent willingness to make the most of the swipe from Fondse and an apparently dangerous tackle on James Fitzpatrick. Ryan Shortland scored the interception try that, with Jimmy Gopperth's kicking, gave Newcastle the win.
Gloucester won their mid-table match against Bath, 14-11, at a very wet Rec. Gloucester's Scotland lock Jim Hamilton and Bath's Ireland lock Ryan Caldwell were sent to the sin bin for instigating a first-half massed brawl that warmed various cockles among a big West Country crowd – they like that kind of thing down there.
Further up the country, Northampton didn't score a try but did beat Sale – who did get one, through the wing Mark Cueto – 24-17.
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