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Harlequins knocked out of Champions Cup by Stormers

Damian Willemse of the DHL Stormers scores a fantastic try during the Heineken Champions Cup, round of 16 match between DHL Stormers and Harlequins at DHL Stadium on April 01, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Harlequins crashed out of the Heineken European Champions Cup despite an attempted late fightback against the Stormers in Cape Town.


The South African side looked to be cruising to victory as they established a 32-7 lead heading into the final eight minutes at DHL Stadium, but Quins gave them something to think about with three converted tries.

England number eight Alex Dombrandt, with his second score of the match, began the late push and Andre Esterhuizen and Joe Marchant then crossed to make it 32-28 as fly-half Marcus Smith belatedly stamped his authority on the game, but that was as close as Quins would get.

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The Stormers showed their colours in the first minute, shaping to box kick from inside their 22 but instead launching an attack which went wide left, then wide right before flanker Deon Fourie ran a supporting line inside to finish off for the try. Manie Libbok started the move and added the conversion.

Harlequins hit straight back, turning down a kickable penalty and going for the corner before Dombrandt peeled round the front to cross over.

Defending URC champions the Stormers showed they have their own variation in lineout drives, also kicking a penalty to the corner and then throwing long to set up a drive which prop Steven Kitshoff finished off.

Another kick to the corner and this time the Stormers threw short, but the result was just the same as Fourie spun off the back of the maul for his second try.


Harlequins had a chance to get back into the game before half-time, but when they spread the ball wide the final pass to wing Cadan Murley was loose when a try was on if it had gone to hand.

Quins also had a stream of kickable penalties as the clock ticked towards and past 40 minutes, but a knock-on meant they ended the half without further points when a penalty would have brought them back within a score – Stormers going into the interval 17-7 ahead.

The first score in the second half was always going to be important and home full-back Damian Willemse did brilliantly to secure it, dabbing the ball down in the corner while his entire body was in the air the other side of the touch line.

The Stormers went over for a fifth try through replacement Willie Engelbrecht from another lineout drive before Quins suddenly came alive as Smith started pulling the strings for Dombrandt, Esterhuizen and Marchant – with the final move of the game – to score.



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