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Harlequins stun Bordeaux to bag Investec Champions Cup semi-final berth

By PA
Marcus Smith of Harlequins celebrates following the team's victory during the Investec Champions Cup Quarter Final match between Union Bordeaux Begles and Harlequins at Stade Chaban-Delmas on April 13, 2024 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Harlequins produced a stunning upset as they reached the Investec Champions Cup semi-finals by beating French heavyweights Bordeaux-Begles 42-41 in a remarkable game at Stade Chaban-Delmas.

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Quins failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals in four previous attempts, and they arrived in south-west France as rank outsiders to topple a team that had swamped Saracens twice this season, scoring 100 points.

But a semi-final against Toulouse or Exeter now awaits after one of the competition’s classic games delivered 12 tries.

Quins full-back Tyrone Green scored the clincher, although Bordeaux still had a chance to win it, but skipper Maxime Lucu missed the conversion of Madosh Tambwe’s 76th-minute try.

It was a spectacular triumph, with scrum-half Will Porter scoring two tries, while there was also a penalty try and touchdowns for flanker Will Evans and number eight Alex Dombrandt.

Marcus Smith kicked five conversions, and Bordeaux were ultimately thwarted despite tries from Lucu, Romain Buros, Nicolas Depoortere, Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Tambwe’s double, with Lucu landing four conversions and a penalty.

Fixture
Investec Champions Cup
Bordeaux
41 - 42
Full-time
Harlequins
All Stats and Data

Quins made a blistering start in 30-degree heat, stunning their hosts by scoring the game’s opening try after just three minutes.

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England flanker Chandler Cunningham-South did the hard yards on his return to action from injury, punching holes in Bordeaux’s defence, before centre Andre Esterhuizen’s touchline break saw him find Porter with a scoring pass.

Smith added the conversion and things got quickly got even better for Quins when referee Andrea Piardi awarded them a penalty try after Smith’s pass to an unmarked Louis Lynagh was deliberately knocked on by fly-half Mateo Garcia, who received a yellow card.

The game’s first water-break also saw umbrellas brought on to protect Bordeaux players from the sun and after being suitably refreshed, they attacked from a close-range line-out before skipper Lucu applied an emphatic finish.

Bordeaux had gone up a gear and they struck again six minutes later when a sweeping attack inside Quins’ half was rounded off by Buros, with Lucu’s conversion narrowing the gap to two points.

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It was a pulsating contest and Quins conjured a memorable try 10 minutes before half-time just when it looked as though Bordeaux had grasped the initiative.

Wing Cadan Murley spun in and out of Bordeaux tackles before finding Dombrandt, whose inside ball to Porter saw the scrum-half kick ahead and regather for his second touchdown. Smith’s conversion took Quins past 20 points.

And a first-half masterclass concluded from Quins when two shows of their scrum dominance was followed by a driven line-out and Evans dived over for their fourth try, with Smith converting for a 28-12 interval advantage.

Bordeaux knew they had to score first in the second half and it took them barely three minutes as Depoortere claimed a superb solo try, collecting a pass just inches off the ground before brushing aside Quins defenders.

Lucu converted and Bordeaux were rapidly establishing momentum as a long-range penalty from the captain left them six points adrift midway through the third quarter.

Points Flow Chart

Harlequins win +1
Time in lead
6
Mins in lead
73
7%
% Of Game In Lead
90%
55%
Possession Last 10 min
45%
5
Points Last 10 min
7

Quins, though, knocked Bordeaux backwards once again, and Dombrandt scored their fifth try approaching the hour-mark, with Smith’s conversion making it 35-22, only for Bielle-Biarrey to touch down after Quins’ defence was splintered.

And when Tambwe sprinted over with 15 minutes remaining – Lucu’s conversion put Bordeaux ahead for the first time – the momentum appeared to have shifted, especially when Quins hooker Sam Riley lost control of the ball while going over the home line following a forward drive.

But Green then struck to revive hopes of a famous win and hopes were further raised when Lucu missed the conversion of Tambwe’s second try before they ran down the clock and could start to celebrate an astounding success.

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Abe 2 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

17 Go to comments
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TRENDING Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss
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