Wasps too good for Quins
Wasps took a giant step towards the European Champions Cup quarter-finals as they stunned Harlequins 23-3 at The Stoop on Saturday evening.
The victory set up a winner-takes-all showdown with Leinster, who trounced Castres 50-8 in Dublin, at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry in the final round of Pool Two next weekend.
Early tries from Christian Wade and Joe Simpson set the platform for the triumph, while Andy Goode kicked 10 points along with Elliot Daly's long-range penalty effort. Quins could only muster a solitary Ben Botica penalty in reply.
Conor O'Shea made two changes to his starting side which dismantled Leicester 32-12 last weekend, with Will Collier coming in for Kyle Sinckler at tighthead and Tom Williams replacing Ugo Monye on the wing.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young brought Tom Varndell, Daly, Edd Shervington and Ashley Johnson into his starting line-up after his side's 39-26 loss to Bath at the Recreation Ground last Saturday.
Williams was lucky not to be sent to the sin-bin in the third minute when the Quins winger collared Alapati Leuia as the Wasps centre raced onto a deft chip from Goode.
Referee Nigel Owens kept his card in his pocket, despite the loud protestations from the home crowd, and Goode made no mistake from the tee as the visitors took an early 3-0 lead.
Quins were playing with plenty of early enterprise, but two massive errors from Danny Care and Mike Brown handed Wasps the initiative.
First, Care failed to find George Lowe with an ambitious long pass, allowing Wade to collect the loose ball and race away 75 metres downfield to touch down. Goode tagged on the extras as the visitors stormed into a 10-0 advantage.
Quins were left reeling, but worse was to come as Brown kicked the ball out on the full, handing Wasps a prime attacking lineout.
After strong carries from Leuia and James Haskell, Simpson spotted a gap on the edge of the ruck to snipe though and race under the posts to further increase his team's lead. Goode converted once again to cap off a dream opening quarter for the visitors.
The hosts dominated possession and territory for the rest of the half, with Wasps number eight Nathan Hughes being despatched to the sin-bin for persistent infringing in the 29th minute.
Quins could not capitalise on their numerical advantage, however, and failed to get onto the scoreboard before the break.
The home team needed a good start to the second half, but Goode's long-range penalty made the comeback mission all the more difficult. After turning down a number of kickable penalties in the first half, Botica finally got Quins on the scoreboard with a belated three-pointer in the 45th minute.
Daly then landed a monster 50-metre penalty to make it 23-3 as veteran fly-half Nick Evans, who recovered from a groin injury to make the Harlequins bench, entered the fray in a bid to turn the tide in the final quarter.
Trailing by 20 points, Quins monopolised possession but could not find a way through the stubborn Wasps defence marshalled superbly by skipper Haskell and fellow back-rower Hughes.
As hordes of home fans began to leave The Stoop with 10 minutes of the contest remaining, Wasps continued their resolute defensive effort to see out an incredible victory in London.