Play-offs confirmed for Harlequins after another stunning comeback
23rd May 2022 | Rugby
Harlequins claimed yet another dramatic comeback, this time against Gloucester Rugby, in the inaugural Big Summer Kick-Off.
With the sun beating down on the turf of Twickenham Stadium as the West Fan Village rocked with the sound of the start of summer, the team thrilled fans with another nail-biting Gallagher Premiership clash that saw England centre Joe Marchant stand to the fore at the home of English rugby.
Before Marchant could claim the two tries that would send him on his way to Player of the Match, Harlequins suffered early woes. Gloucester enjoyed a near perfect start, claiming the day's first try with a characteristic driving maul.
Despite a retaliatory try for Quins number eight Alex Dombrandt, Gloucester ran in 17 unanswered points to leave Harlequins facing a substantial deficit at half-time.
Credit: JMP/Juan Gasparini for @harlequins.
With tries for tangy Gloucester lock Freddie Clarke and Scotland international Chris Harris putting Quins on the backfoot, Hastings opted to slot a drop goal six minutes from the break.
The Cherry and Whites seemed the sharper of the two sides in South West London.
However, doing what they do best, Harlequins spurred on in the second portion of the fixture, finally finding their groove to register 21 unanswered points that would secure playoff rugby.
Joe Marchant celebrates his first try against Gloucester
Marchant's first try would spark the comeback, with the midfielder benefitting from a well-threaded grubber from Danny Care off the back of a scrum five metres from Gloucester's line.
It capped a fine period for Care who won Quins their field position after first sniping from the base of the ruck, going clean through the Gloucester defence and then putting scrambling wing Louis Rees-Zammit on his backside with some bamboozling footwork. Smith added the extras to reduce the deficit to ten points.
Marchant struck with his second and Quins' third on the hour mark, with the team muscling their way up to Gloucester's line before Care sent it out the back to Smith who sharply shipped it out to inside centre Andre Esterhuizen before a final pass sent Marchant into open space to cut Gloucester down to a three-point lead.
As Quins seem to have found their rhythm after three weeks of no rugby, Gloucester were reduced to 14 as Wales wing Rees-Zammit was shown yellow by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys for a deliberate knock-on.
Fast making the most of the one-man advantage, Quins again trucked their way back up to the Gloucester line and, after first being repelled by an aggressive rush defence, delivered the bonus-point score as fullback Huw Jones sent right wing Cadan Murley over in the corner.
Another successful Smith conversion saw Quins take the lead for the first time of the day at 26-24.
Quins then held on to possession before sending the ball far into the stands with the clock in the red to secure a semi-final and continue the side's Premiership title defence.