Cardiff Blues 20-32 Harlequins: Quins triumph as Blues honour ex-player Lomu
Harlequins make it back-to-back European Challenge Cup wins with a 32-20 win against Cardiff Blues on Thursday
The hosts honoured former player and All Black legend Jonah Lomu before kick-off following his sudden death early on Wednesday morning
Blues were narrowly in front 6-3 at half-time
Two tries in two minutes in the second-half from Tim Visser and Ollie Lindsay-Haugue secured the victory for Quins before Charlie Walker, and Danny Care touched down to secure the bonus-point for the visitors
Danny Care scored with the final play of the game as Harlequins secured a dramatic bonus-point win at Cardiff Blues, coming out on top with a 32-20 win at Cardiff Arms Park.
An attritional first period saw no tries scored as Rhys Patchell kicked two early penalties for a 6-0 home lead after 13 minutes, before Ben Botica hit back as Quins fly half halved the deficit to make it 6-3 to Cardiff at half time.
But a rip-roaring start to the second period followed from the visitors as Tim Visser and Ollie Lindsay-Hague tries turned the game on its’ head, Botica with two goals, to leave the London side 17-6 up after 52 minutes.
Charlie Walker was next to go in for the fervent Stoop men, helping see his side 16 points ahead with 15 minutes to play. Despite a penalty try, which Jarrod Evans improved, plus a converted five-pointer from Sam Hobbs, Quins held on and went on to secure a potentially crucial bonus point as Danny Care raced over on the final play of the game, Tim Swiel with the extras.
At a wintery Arms Park, both sides paid tribute to former Blues man Jonah Lomu with a minute’s applause ahead of kick off.
Blockbusting Lomu-esque attacking play would eventually follow, but the two sides slugged out a closely-contested first half with all six tries coming after hal time.
With ferociously effective defence well on top, both sides’ kickers took centre stage, and it was Patchell who starred in the early exchanges with six points in five minutes to leave the hosts 6-0 up inside the opening quarter.
Blues thundered through an indomitable period and were only breached on 34 minutes as Botica got the visitors off the mark with a penalty goal.
If fact it took until the final half-hour of the game for the evening’s first try to come and it was Quins, lifted by a timely break, who kicked off a stunning period on 50 minutes, Dutch flier Visser intercepting a wayward pass before racing 40 metres to go in.
Botica converted and the floodgates were firmly opened, mercurial full back Lindsay-Hague with his second try in as many Challenge Cup games this year as he scorched in following a slick Botica pass just two minutes after Visser’s opener.
After two blistering scores, Quins showed their steely side for their third score of a remarkable quarter of an hour, wing man Walker on the end of swift work from Care after a rolling maul broke down.
Cardiff fans and players alike were left shellshocked as the home side found themselves 25-6 down having led just 15 minutes earlier.
But they were thrown a lifeline with a penalty try on 69 minutes, which Evans converted, to reduce the deficit to 12 points.
However, their momentum was stalled by a red card for Matthew Rhys, who caught Nick Easter with a stray boot, on 73 minutes.
Sheer determination brought the 14-man hosts a further try on 79 minutes, Evans taking the score to 20-25 with the seconds ticking down.
But Quins had the final say as Care took advantage of his side’s man advantage, rushing in on the final hooter to secure a bonus point which sees John Kingston’s men surge five points clear of Pool 3.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Harlequins: Dave Ward
The hooker, a veteran of over 150 career appearances, will have played very few of those games at Number 7, but Quins’ openside flanker for the night proved to be a crucial cog in a clinical second-half performance from the Harlequins machine.
Date: Thursday, November 19th
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: Alexander Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Laurent Cardona (France), Arnaud Blondel (France)
TMO: Jean-Marie Piraveau (France)