Gallagher Premiership: Marcus Smith magic clinches Harlequins win over Exeter Chiefs | Rugby Union News

England international Smith made a conversion in the 80th minute giving Quins a narrow victory; Exeter played the second half with 14 men after Alec Hepburn was sent off shortly before half-time; Northampton ended a four-game losing streak with Newcastle defeat; Gloucester beat the Saracens

Last updated: 01/09/22 00:06


Marcus Smith showed his composure to kick off the winning conversion

Marcus Smith’s outstanding last-minute conversion secured the Harlequins a 14–12 win over the Exeter Chiefs in a repeat of last season’s Gallagher Premiership final.

With seven points each at half-time, the home side played the second half with a man advantage after the Chiefs’ Alec Hepburn was sent off in the final halves following a dangerous clear-out on Joe Marler.

After Jack Innard put Chiefs ahead, Andre Esterhuizen provided the way back for Harlequins.

Esterhuizen used her pace to get to the end of a precise Smith cross kick in the 79th minute. The England team opener then showed his accuracy from the tee to secure the game.

The thrilling afternoon among last year’s Premiership finalists began with Exeter’s defense shattered by a glittering run from Joe Marchant.

Even though he had the ball snatched away by Stuart Hogg, Luke Northmore was able to stab forward and land for the first try of the match, with less than five minutes left.

Danny Care was at the center of the proceedings when Harlequins probed for a second try soon after. He sent Jack Kenningham through a gap, only to make a tricky return pass by approaching the line one stage later.

Tighthead Will Collier’s propeller was celebrating his 200th appearance for champions and was part of a vintage scrum performance that saw Exeter struggle to establish a foothold in the game.

The only downside to the Harlequins’ dominant opening was their inability to score more points. Meanwhile, the Exeter’s ability to never give up paid the dividends and after 35 minutes they gave it a try of their own.

Joe Simmonds threw the ball at Henry Slade, tricking the defense joining the ruck, and the England center used his gas on a ring run to cross into the corner.

Exeter finished the first half in the lead, but their prospects of leaving the capital with a fifth straight away win were thwarted when Hepburn was sent off. Fortunately, Marler was unharmed by the dangerous clear-out performed by Hepburn and Sam Simmonds.

Gallagher Premiership – Round 13 Matches and Results

Friday Bristol Bears 32-15 Sales Sharks
Saturday Harlequins 14-12 Exeter Chiefs
Saturday Newcastle Falcons 8-44 Northampton Saints
Saturday Saracens 24-25 Gloucester Rugby
Sunday at 3pm Bath Rugby vs Worcester Warriors
Sunday at 3pm Wasps versus Leicester Tigers

With a lead in terms of men, the Harlequins were initially unable to build on the 7-7 halftime score. Instead, in the third quarter they wasted a series of opportunities, albeit in conditions made treacherous by the pouring rain.

As the Harlequins struggled to score, Exeter were rewarded for staying in the fight and substitute hooker Innard’s first try of the Premiership season in the 65th minute gave them the lead.

10 minutes seemed to be enough to secure a gritty away win, but Exeter’s defensive line cracked during an onslaught in the hosts’ final.

Esterhuizen came at the end of a stunning cross kick, a tactic Smith had executed well, and the former South African center slipped over the line to block the match at 12-12.

Smith, undeterred by the weather conditions and an extensive attempt at conversion, hit the mark. It connected well with the ball and after bouncing off the right post, it sailed through and The Stoop exploded.

Away wins for Northampton and Gloucester

Elsewhere in the Gallagher Premiership, Dan Biggar scored 17 points as the Northampton Saints secured a comfortable bonus point win at Newcastle Falcons, ending a four-game losing streak.

The Saints crossed for five tries during the 44-8 triumph at Kingston Park, as their offensive talent was too much for the Falcons to handle.

Tom Collins, Courtnall Skosan, Sam Matavesi, George Furbank and Tom James all climbed the scoreboard and the result brings them to fifth place in the Premiership standings, three points off the top four.

In north London, Gloucester held out for their first Saracens win in nine attempts and beat the hosts 25-24.

The Saracens had a chance to win him, however, unlike Smith at the Stoop, Alex Lozowski was unable to secure a makeover from the flank with two minutes left.

Fraser Balmain, Jack Singleton and Jack Clement all crossed paths for Gloucester tries, with Adam Hastings adding two penalties and two transformations for the guests.

The Saracens had held a nine-point lead at one point, after Cherry and Whites had lost two men to first-half sin. However, Mark McCall’s men ultimately had to console themselves with a try and just a losing bonus point.

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