Marcus Smith becomes youngest player to reach Premiership milestone
Marcus Smith became the youngest player to reach 100 Premiership appearances today as he led Harlequins to an important 29-13 win over Sale Sharks.
The northerners were the favourites heading into the game, after opening the season with five wins from five, placing them near the top of the league standings. But Harlequins, undeterred by the form of their opponents, put in a brilliant display, spearheaded by Smith who was awarded Player of the Match for his efforts.
Prior to the game, the Londoners hadn’t won at the AJ Bell stadium since 2015, but they shook off that unwanted record, in large part thanks to the 24-point haul scored by Smith.
“That was the talk of the week. We haven’t had much success up here over the past few years. They’ve started the season really well. We dug deep today and the forwards gave us a good platform,” Smith said after the game.
“We haven’t fired as much as we would have liked at the start of this season so we’ve gone back to basics. But the work of the forwards has been brilliant. When it’s on we like to play.”
Smith played a pivotal role in his side’s opening try. After Danny Care made a break in the midfield, he offloaded to his fly-half who then stabbed through a beautifully weighted kick towards the sideline. The bobbling ball was reclaimed by winger Nick David who then crossed the whitewash.
"We see the glimpses of brilliance from Marcus Smith"
"We wanted to stop the momentum on the big guys"
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) October 23, 2022
Sale Sharks quickly responded with a score of their own as Sam James ran in an opportunistic try to bring the hosts level.
But it was Harlequins who had the final say of the first half when Marcus Smith cut a diagonal inside line to split the Sharks defence and cross over for his 23rd Premiership try, giving his side a 17-10 advantage at the break.
The second half proved less eventful as Smith landed four successful penalties to pull Harlequins further ahead. Sale came close to scoring in the 56th minute but their attacking opportunity was squandered after an overthrown miss-pass evaded the hands of Tom O’Flaherty, meaning Harlequins ran out comfortable winners.
In 2020, Smith became the second-youngest player to reach 500 Gallagher Premiership points during a win over London Irish.
He was also the top points-scorer in the 2020/21 Premiership season with 286, clocking nearly 100 more than anyone else, and starred as Harlequins beat Exeter 40-38 to claim their first title since 2012.
And now he has become the youngest player to reach the century mark for league appearances, having made his professional debut back in 2017 against London Irish.
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