England call-ups shine but giant Bok leads Quins to Worcester win
England prospects Louis Lynagh and Alex Dombrandt scored tries in front of Eddie Jones but it was Harlequins’ scrum and a South African who were the real stars of a 35-29 victory over Worcester.
Lynagh and Dombrandt celebrated Tuesday’s selection in Jones’ first training squad ahead of the looming autumn series by touching down in a one-sided first-half at Twickenham Stoop.
Cadan Murley also crossed to establish a 21-3 interval lead and while the Premiership champions went on to claim the bonus point through Joe Marchant, Worcester hit back through Ollie Lawrence, Willi Heinz and Will Chudley.
Twice the Warriors trailed by 18 points but heading into the last 10 minutes the deficit had been reduced to four through some enterprising play, only for lock Dino Lamb to dash their hopes by surging over the line late on.
Had it not been for their complete dominance at the scrum, which was a reliable source of points and penalties throughout, Quins might have been in trouble in their search for a second win of the season.
And although his influence eventually faded, former Springbok Andre Esterhuizen was a powerful presence in midfield as he broke the gainline time and again just days after signing a new contract.
A slice of history was made when Sara Cox became the first woman to referee a Premiership match and it was a tidy afternoon from the official, who has previously run the touchline 11 times and acted as TMO twice.
England fly-half and club captain Stephan Lewis paraded the Premiership trophy before kick-off and the home fans did not have to wait long for a try as an early Owen Williams penalty was quickly overhauled.
Worcester had started brightly but they cracked when coming under pressure for the first time as Danny Care flicked a five-metre penalty wide and when Lynagh took Esterhuizen’s pass, he stuck his head down and blasted through three tackles to score.
It was already proving to be a grim afternoon at the scrum for the Warriors and with Willi Heinz dropping the ball and Esterhuizen battering their defence with strong carries, their early flourish was quickly fading from memory.
On the half-hour mark Quins declined a shot at goal for the set-piece and once again Worcester’s scrum disintegrated, but on this occasion the cost was a try as Dombrandt touched down under the posts.
Wing Noah Heward was sin-binned for taking full-back Tyrone Green out in the air and on the stroke of half-time the champions capitalised on the extra man out wide when Green shovelled scrappy ball out to Murley for a routine finish.
Two minutes into the second half Worcester found their mojo as an under-manned blindside was expertly exploited by Heinz, who sent the marauding Lawrence crashing over.
Assisting the Warriors was Green’s ongoing nightmare as he repeatedly dropped high balls and also kicked out on the full, but their vulnerability at the scrum resurfaced in the 54th minute.
Quins took a stranglehold under the posts, winning penalties and keeping up the pressure on the set-piece until Care opted to spin it wide with Marchant gliding over via a scoring pass from Tommaso Allan.
Heinz gathered his own chip to touch down and when the home side became loose as they probed for a fifth try, they were open to the counter-attack and Worcester pounced with Chudley crossing.
Quins’ lead was now only four points but they rallied to score the next try through Lamb, with Marc Thomas’ injury-time score securing a losing bonus point to reward the Warriors’ persistence.
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