Harlequins fight back not quite enough in Cape Town
4th Apr 2023 | Rugby
A frenetic fightback in the last five minutes was not enough for Harlequins as they took on the DHL Stormers in front of a record home crowd at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town.
The DHL Stormers started early, scoring on one minute with some neat offloading allowing Fourie to break through the line and claim the first try of the match. Libbok converted to give The Stormers a 7-0 lead.
Just two minutes later Quins replied with a try of their own, having won a penalty from the kick off, Marcus Smith kicked downfield to give his side a lineout five meters from the Stormers' try line. Dino Lamb took the lineout and set the platform for Quins to attack from, Alex Dombrandt peeled off the maul and with the help of Jack Walker, powered over the line to score in the corner. Marcus Smith added the extras to level the score after just three minutes.
On eight minutes, The Stormers scored their second try from a powerful driving maul. The conversion was missed but the hosts led 12-7 with ten minutes gone.
Harlequins continued to battle hard up front, asserting their dominance at scrum time and winning against the head. The Stormers continued to play fast, but Quins began to anticipate their attack, as Nick David flew out of the line and put in a huge hit on the Stormers' fullback, forcing the knock on.
It wouldn't be until the 28th minute that The DHL Stadium would see its next points. Another driving maul from The DHL Stormers would allow Fourie the opportunity to break off and dive over for his second of the afternoon. Again the conversion was missed, but The DHL Stormers had a strong ten point lead going into the final ten minutes of the half.
Quins held the majority of possession for the remainder of the first half and had The DHL Stormers camped on their own line, but their defence held strong. A whirlwind first half came to an end, with The Stormers leading 17-7.
As they did in the first half, The DHL Stormers came out firing. Damian Willemse would score their first try of the second half, the fullback collecting the inside ball from his winger to dive over in the corner. With 47 minutes gone, the score stood 22-7 in favour of the hosts.
A Fourire penalty on 55 minutes would extend The DHL Stormers' lead by a further three points and that's how the score would stay until the 74th minute. With momentum, The Stormers enlisted the help of their driving maul to score their final try, as Engelbrecht dotted down for his first. Libbok converted to make the score 32-7 with five minutes to go.
Three minutes later deep inside the opposition half, a wide pass from Marcus Smith to Oscar Beard gave the winger space to step inside, offloading to Alex Dombrandt who powered over for his second of the afternoon. Smith converted to make it 32-14 with two to go.
With one minute left on the clock, Andre Esterhuizen scored Quins' third try, dotting down under the posts to give Marcus Smith an easy conversion to narrow The DHL Stormers' lead further.
With the clock in the red, a loose ball from The DHL Stormers was tidied up by Joe Marchant on the occasion of his 150th Harlequins appearance. The winger sprinted clear and scored Quins' fourth and final try, which Marcus Smith converted.
A strong fightback from Quins, scoring three converted tries in the final five minutes of the match, but The DHL Stormers would ultimately claim a 32-28 victory on home soil.