Harlequins 3 Bristol 17: Bristol emerge from mud to bury Quins

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The Independent Online

Bristol threw everything into winning this all-or-nothing match and kept alive their hopes of progress. Quins are bottom of Pool Three, still without a win.

It was not pretty. The mud, the blunders and the lack of atmosphere all made for a poor spectacle. The first half seemed to move from one flare-up to the next, chiefly among the forwards, although Bristol's scrum-half, Shaun Perry, managed to tangle with the Harlequins lock Jim Evans at one point.

At least Bristol were able to raise their game enough in that opening 40 minutes to score a couple of tries. They came in the space of two minutes, the first after Bristol won a line-out on the far side, formed a maul and drove at the Quins line. Suddenly the open-side flanker, Alfie To'oala, peeled off the back of the maul and charged down a channel created on the left to crash over.

From the restart, which Ugo Monye had won for Harlequins, De Wet Barry's attempted miss-pass was anticipated by the Bristol left wing, David Lemi, who plucked the ball out of the air and sprinted 65 metres or so to the line. The outside half, Dave Hill, who had missed the earlier conversion and a penalty, put the ball between the uprights.

Quins' aggression was then, for once, channelled into the game and their scrum-half, Danny Care, had enough time and space to knock over a drop goal from 40 metres.

It did not get any better for Harlequins after the interval. For a start Adrian Jarvis put the restart kick straight over the dead-ball line, thus giving Bristol a scrum on halfway. From there Hill punched a low chip across the wind and the ball took a deflection off an advancing Quin to fall at the feet of the Bristol full-back, Luke Arscott. He toed the ball ahead and over the line and won the race to touch down for the try.

Thereafter it was torrid stuff, first one side, then the other pressing. Ironically, for a match which was so fiercely competitive, it finished with uncontested scrums as Bristol ran out of props through injury and yellow cards. Even when down to 14 men, though, the West Country team defended well and denied Quins a bonus point.

Harlequins: M Brown; T Williams (N Spanghro, 58-68; T Masson, 68), D Strettle, DW Barry, U Monye; A Jarvis, D Care (S So'oialo, 61); C Jones, G Botha (T Fuga, 61), M Ross, O Kohn (Spanghro, 68), J Evans, C Hala'Ufia, N Easter, P Volley (capt; W Skinner, 68).

Bristol: L Arscott; L Robinson (S Cox,34), R Higgitt, N Brew, D Lemi; D Hill, S Perry; A Clarke (D Crompton, 61-72), M Regan (D Blaney, 76), J Hobson (Crompton, 72), R Winters, S Hohneck, M Salter (capt), A Blowers, A To'oala (J El Abd, 54).

Referee: P Allen (Scotland) .

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