Harlequins too good for Wasps side that welcomed back Jack Willis
Gallagher Premiership champions Harlequins returned to form in style as they defeated Wasps 29-24 at the Twickenham Stoop. Quins ran in five tries in total as they ended a run of three straight defeats to move up to third in the table while at the same time opening up a five-point gap between them and their visitors.
While the result may have been a disappointment for Wasps, there was the welcome sight of Jack Willis making his first appearance in a year – as a replacement – following his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Wasps, who had won their previous four league games, lost hooker Tom Cruse to what looked like a shoulder injury with just 30 seconds on the clock, with replacement Gabriel Oghre effectively having to go the full 80 minutes.
It was a better start for Harlequins, however, as they opened the scoring in the third minute when a quickly-taken penalty by Danny Care led to young winger Oscar Beard squeezing over in the left-hand corner. Will Edwards sent the conversion wide and the visitors were soon on the board themselves when Jacob Umaga kicked a straight-forward penalty.
Umaga then missed the chance to put his side ahead when he sent another kick wide and Wasps were made to rue that as Harlequins scored their second try after 31 minutes. The forwards laid the groundwork before Care moved the ball out to Andre Esterhuizen and his quick pass sent his fellow centre Huw Jones through for an easy finish.
Edwards’ conversion gave the hosts a 12-3 lead they retained into half-time before they took the game away from their opponents in the early stages of the second half. First, Care’s pass allowed Matt Symons to gain a few metres before the lock produced a lovely offload to send Cadan Murley through a gap to score.
Quins then secured their bonus point in the 46th minute as Beard broke well down the left before Care quickly recycled for Esterhuizen and there was no stopping him from a few metres out.
Wasps finally managed to hit back just before the hour mark when Tom Willis did well to burrow over in the corner down the left. Harlequins’ response was swift and stylish as Tommy Allan’s offload allowed his fellow replacement Louis Lynagh to burst onto the ball and show the visiting defence a clean pair of heels.
Despite the result no longer being in doubt, Wasps refused to go quietly and they pulled a try back with five minutes left when Sam Spink plunged over. Then, with the clock in the red, they claimed what could be a crucial losing bonus point, with the race for the top four so tight, as Jeff Toomaga-Allen grounded the ball under the posts.
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