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Marcus Smith delivers magic as Harlequins down Glasgow late

By PA
Marcus Smith of Harlequins. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Marcus Smith provided the magic as Harlequins emerged from a second-half collapse to edge into the Investec Champions Cup quarter-finals with a 28-24 victory over Glasgow Warriors.

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Smith starred as Quins built a 21-7 interval lead, the England fly-half setting up two tries and running in a dynamic solo score to place his side in full control of the last-16 clash at The Stoop.

But once again an implosion subjected their fans to a white-knuckle ride, having almost let a 37-point lead slip against Bath in the Gallagher Premiership six days ago.

Johnny Matthews and George Horne stormed over for Glasgow and when Horne landed a penalty in the 60th minute, the United Rugby Championship’s second-placed side were back in front.

But Quins struck through replacement hooker Sam Riley with five minutes to go and man-of-the-match Smith converted to complete another great escape, setting up a last-eight appointment against Saracens or Bordeaux Begles.

Evidence that it would be a high-scoring match was seen in the third minute when fly-half Tom Jordan danced through the home defence as the prelude to lock Scott Cummings crossing from close range.

Attack

99
Passes
205
76
Ball Carries
150
152m
Post Contact Metres
346m
5
Line Breaks
3

Quins’ brittleness had been exposed and while they showed greater intent in a period of sustained attack, on two occasions indiscipline and poor execution allowed Glasgow to escape.

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Play continued at a frantic pace and in one move Glasgow lacked the skills to match their ambition, while Quins butchered a promising move down the right and saw Cadan Murley drop the ball over the line.

But pressure was building on the visitors’ whitewash and it cracked in the 23rd minute when Andre Esterhuizen gathered Smith’s chip and touched down in the right corner.

Taking advantage of Sione Tuipulotu’s sin-binning for offside, Smith then danced around four tacklers and even had time to recapture the ball after it squirted out of his hands before touching down as Quins attacked from a five-metre scrum.

And on the stroke of half-time, they ran in a third try – a line out drive taking them close to the line before Smith’s sharp hands in slippery conditions provided Murley with a simple finish.

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Glasgow took control after half-time and were rewarded with a 50th-minute maul try from Johnny Matthews and when George Horne converted, the deficit no longer looked so ominous.

Two minutes later they were level, Horne finishing a swashbuckling move down the left before improving his own try.

Quins were wobbling – their ability to throw away big leads exposed yet again – and a Horne penalty nudged the Scottish team back in front before Joe Marler was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Rory Darge.

Glasgow pressed for the score that would sweep them out of sight but instead, Quins scrambled out of their half and when full-back Josh McKay fumbled in the backfield, they had the opportunity they needed to strike through Riley.

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