Nick Evans kicks Harlequins to victory over Exeter Chiefs
Dave Ewers marked his return from injury with a powerful display but it was not enough to prevent Exeter Chiefs falling to a 29-15 defeat to Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at the Stoop.
The Chiefs flanker has been out of action since the start of the season with a knee problem, and surely would have made his Test debut in a decimated England back row had he been fit.
He showed no ill-effects at the Stoop though, making ground with every carry, but it was the boot of Nick Evans that won the day, with Quins finishing the stronger to secure an opening win in the competition.
After a brilliant early score from Aaron Morris had put the home side 8-0 up, Exeter responded through James Short.
But while Exeter looked the more dangerous, Harlequins' superior set-piece, and dead-eye kicking from their former All Black fly-half Evans, made the difference as he finished with 14 points in all.
Leading 11-5 at the break, Evans added a further two penalties in the second half, and despite Elvis Taione getting a second Exeter score, Charlie Walker and Luc Jones both crossed late on to see off the visitors' challenge.
It was a brutal start to the game, with Will Hooley penalised for taking out Alofa Alofa with barely a minute gone, before taking his leave after a thumping hit from Mat Luamanu.
The Quins forward was sin-binned for his troubles, but despite being a man down, they got the first try through Morris after a brilliant break by Walker.
Short responded in kind with a mazy run down the left, but two Evans penalties had Quins in control at the break.
Evans and Joe Simmonds, on for Hooley, exchanged penalties early in the second half, before Taione's close-range score put Chiefs in front for the first time.
However the hooker was sin-binned soon after for offside in the 22, allowing Evans to boot Quins back in front. And when Walker went over with 12 minutes remaining, the Quins lead was pushed out to seven.
They made the game safe four minutes later with a try from Jones on debut, the replacement scrum-half quickest to a loose ball in the Chiefs 22.
Evans converted from in front and there was no way back. The Chiefs kept fighting, with the aim of at least picking up a bonus point, but Quins saw the game out comfortably.