Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Quins steal late victory

Nick Evans converted once, kicked four penalties and scored a drop goal for Harlequins

Nick Evans struck the match-winning drop goal seven minutes from time as Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins ground out a hard-fought 22-19 victory over Worcester at The Stoop.

The former All Blacks fly-half, who finished with 17 points, proved the difference between two well-matched sides. He set up Quins' only try for centre Matt Hopper, converted it and also landed four penalties and the crucial drop-kick.

Winger David Lemi's second-minute try put the Warriors ahead and a second from replacement Errie Claassens put them level at 19-19 after they had two players sin-binned. Fly-half Andy Goode's three penalties provided their other nine points as they claimed a deserved losing bonus point.

Quins landed themselves in trouble at the start by losing possession and Evans was tackled behind his own line as he cleared up the mess. From the resulting five-metre scrum the Warriors worked the ball from left to right and back again to send Lemi over in the corner.

Goode's conversion rebounded from the post but, five minutes later, he made amends with a 40-metre penalty. Harlequins began to take the game to the visitors as Karl Dickson was held up over the line after jinking through but referee Luke Pearce, who had played the advantage, brought play back for a penalty kicked by Evans.

Within two minutes, it was cancelled out by Goode's second. Worcester were reduced to 14 men in the 24th minute when Lemi was yellow-carded for killing the ball in front of his own line.

Quins went for touch rather than goal with the penalty but, when they were awarded a second in quick succession - from an easier angle - Evans put it over via the post, while Goode restored Worcester's eight-point lead with his third penalty.

Euan Murray made his Warriors debut when he replaced the injured John Andress in the 35th minute. Murray's first scrum was forced into retreat by the home pack before Evans capitalised expertly by finding Hopper on an unstoppable straight run-in for his side's first try.

Evans converted and then kicked Harlequins into the lead for the first time with a penalty on the stroke of half-time after No 8 Semisi Taulava became the second Worcester player to be sin-binned.

Evans extended the lead to five points with his fourth penalty. Worcester drew level with 12 minutes left when Classens went over in the left corner but Goode was narrowly wide with the conversion. But Evans had the final say with his 73rd-minute drop goal as Quins played the advantage after Worcester offended at the breakdown.

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