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'So smart': Eben Etzebeth's quick thinking stuns Harlequins with crafty runaway try

By Kim Ekin
(Source/Champions Cup)

Sharks lock Eben Etzebeth came up with a cunning piece of play to stun Harlequins at the Stoop stealing the ball from the base of the ruck and streaking 40 metres away untouched to score.

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His unique try exploited rules around unbound players at the ruck which saw Harlequins prop Joe Marler detach early with an improper bind.

That meant the ball was live, allowing Etzebeth to stalk around the breakdown and pinch the ball out of the scrumhalf Danny Care’s hands.

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Harlequins were setting up a box kick at the time and were left confused by the play, not reacting in time to be able to chase down the Springbok lock.

A counter-ruck push by a Sharks forward was the catalyst for Marler’s bind becoming unbound, with Etzebeth timing his poach perfectly.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Brilliantly smart play from Eben Etzebeth; he was going to get this spot on at some stage and has here! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HARvSHA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HARvSHA</a> <a href=”https://t.co/LJNW4usZ6W”>pic.twitter.com/LJNW4usZ6W</a></p>&mdash; Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) <a href=”https://twitter.com/jaredwright17/status/1616797254542626816?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Etzebeth’s quick thinking highlighted the dangers of caterpillar rucking if officials are going to enforce the binding rules properly.

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Early in the second half a similar situation unfolded as Harlequins set up to exit via a box kick, but this time Marler made sure his bind was correct.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Marler learnt his lesson from the 1st half!!! 😂😂😂 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HARvSHA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HARvSHA</a> – even Etzebeth is laughing. <a href=”https://t.co/X3AeYm5S1s”>pic.twitter.com/X3AeYm5S1s</a></p>&mdash; Brett Igoe (@brettruganalyst) <a href=”https://twitter.com/brettruganalyst/status/1616837332405219332?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Former England flyhalf Andy Goode heaped praise on Etzebeth and explained why the try stood after a review.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>So smart from Etzebeth, Marler clearly wasn’t bound as his shoulder came away from the backside of the player in front so the ball was out, decent wheels to finish too! <a href=”https://twitter.com/ChampionsCup?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@ChampionsCup</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HARvSHA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HARvSHA</a></p>&mdash; Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AndyGoode10/status/1616795100012486658?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

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Etzebeth was widely praised by fans on Twitter for exposing the caterpillar ruck while England’s experienced Test duo Care and Marler were criticised for their lack of accuracy and effort on the play.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Well Danny Care may be playing his 350th game but he clearly does not learn from his mistakes!<br>Earlier Eben Etzebeth robbed Care of the ball at the base but knocked on.<br>This time he picks up cleanly &amp; races away to score. The key is Care is not bound &amp; had his hands on the ball</p>&mdash; Ken Borland (@KenBorland) <a href=”https://twitter.com/KenBorland/status/1616794463816355841?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Austin Healey is gonna blow a gasket. Tbf, teams would be raging if that was given against them. As a fan, It&#39;s good to see the caterpillar ruck attacked by defending team. I don&#39;t understand why didn&#39;t Care play the ref &amp; tackle Etzebeth rather than let him score. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HARvSHA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HARvSHA</a></p>&mdash; Tadhg O&#39;Ferrall (@tadhgof) <a href=”https://twitter.com/tadhgof/status/1616795061945241602?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I am SO GLAD that try stood. Finally a referee who understands that the player needs to stay fully bound to the ruck. Great work Etzebeth.</p>&mdash; Justin Vorster (@JustVorster) <a href=”https://twitter.com/JustVorster/status/1616794312389296128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Lazy binding from Marler &amp; then Care whinges to ref instead of making a tackle. Poor from two experienced players, while brilliant awareness and knowledge of the law from Etzebeth. <a href=”https://t.co/j2uNXr7Crq”>https://t.co/j2uNXr7Crq</a></p>&mdash; Timmy Hancox (@TimmyHancox) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TimmyHancox/status/1616836075120467968?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>That was one of the smartest scores I&#39;ve ever seen by Etzebeth. His teammate engages the ruck to pull Quins players forward but Marler doesn&#39;t go with. He loses his bind and Eben swoops. SMART.</p>&mdash; Riaan Louw (@Ringo26) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Ringo26/status/1616794710709870593?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 21, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The Harlequins outscored the Sharks by five tries to four in the end to secure a spot in the Round of 16 with a 39-29 win.

 

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