Harlequins 30-6 FC Grenoble: Nick Evans touches down on his first appearance back from broken leg as Quins advance to Challenge Cup final
Harlequins eased past FC Grenoble 20-6 to secure place in the European Challenge Cup final
Quins went into the break 13-6 ahead thanks to Jamie Roberts’ try combined with eight points from the boot of Ben Botica
Nick Evans touched down on his first appearance back from broken leg before George Lowe’s score secured the victory
Harlequins are through to the final of the European Challenge Cup for the fourth time. They eased through thanks to tries from Jamie Roberts, the returning Nick Evans, and George Lowe as they dispatched French side FC Grenoble at Twickenham Stoop on Friday evening.
With five of England’s Grand Slam winners in their squad, Quins never looked like losing this semi-final as they dominated territory and possession from the first whistle to the last, thus securing their fourth Challenge Cup final in 15 years. They are yet to lose a final, lifting the trophy on three occasions in 2001, 2004 and most recently 2011.
Conor O’Shea’s side now head to Lyon to face either Montpellier or Newport Gwent Dragons on 13 May in what is likely to be his last game in charge before taking over as Italy head coach.
Quins led 13-6 at half-time following Wales centre Roberts’ touchdown. Fly-half Evans then scored a try on his first appearance since breaking his leg in February to extend the hosts’ lead before Lowe added a third to secure the trip to France.
Ben Botica opened the scoring after just five minutes, slotting a straightforward penalty to give the hosts a slender three-point lead.
Following substantial pressure, Quins ran in the game’s opening try through colossal centre Jamie Roberts after 12 minutes. The Wales international ran an excellent line before being found by Danny Care’s precise pass to slice through the visitors defence to dot down between the posts.
And Botica made no mistake with the simple conversion, 10-0
What happened from the restart? Quins lead was cut by Jonathan Wisniewski from the tee before Botica reestablished the hosts ten-point advantage with a kick of his own soon after.
But Grenoble had another penalty just before the half-hour with Wisniewski slotting easily between the posts from around 30m out to once again reduce the deficit. And that is how things stayed heading into the break, 13-6.
Replacement fly-half Evans made a fairytale return from a broken leg after the restart as he scored Quins second try. He skillfully dinked a grubber kick through Grenoble’s strong defense before diving on the loose ball before it ran into touch.
The number 10 then added the conversion to put the icing on the cake, 20-6.
Evans then extended the hosts lead from the tee before Lowe crashed over for Quins third try of the evening with ten minutes to go.
Care’s vision once again created the try as he clipped a grubber kick through from a Quins scrum for the centre to ground between the posts. And Evans added the extras, 30-6.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Harlequins: Jamie Roberts
Harlequins and Wales centre Jamie Roberts told BT Sport:
“It was not a night for quick ball. We had to kick the ball quite a lot and we did that well 80% of the time.
“The weather took the width out of Grenoble’s game and I think we adapted to the conditions better.”
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 James Horwill, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Nick Evans, 23 Ross Chisholm
Grenoble: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Xavier Mignot, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Nigel Hunt, 11 Lucas Dupont, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Fabien Alexandre, 6 Mahamadou Diaby, 5 James Percival, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Dayna Edwards, 2 Arnaud Héguy, 1 Sona Taumalolo
Replacements: 16 Loick Jammes, 17 Fabien Barcella, 18 Walter Desmaison, 19 Mathias Marie, 20 Henry Vanderglas, 21 James Hart, 22 Fabien Gengenbacher, 23 Fabrice Estebanez
Date: Friday, April 22
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)