Quins do enough to edge Irish
Harlequins kicked off their Aviva Premiership season with a hard-fought 20-15 win over London Irish in an error-ridden game at Twickenham.
Quins were nowhere their best and were hard pressed to repel a battling second-half performance from the Irish.
The visitors seemed in total control when they led 20-6 at half-time but, early in the second half, both props Joe Marlar and Kyle Sinckler collected yellow cards, allowing the Irish to mount a revival.
Quins had dominated the first half with tries from Ugo Monye and replacement Ollie Lindsay-Hague and two conversions and two penalties from Nick Evans and, had the outside half not missed with three simple penalties, Quins would have won the game more comfortably.
Some excellent goal-kicking from Shane Geraghty saw him succeed with five penalties but crucially Irish failed to score a try when Quins were down to 13 men.
A late penalty from Evans saw the visitors home.
England wing Marland Yarde was the only new name in the Quins line-up as he faced his old club. Marler led the side, having taken over the club captaincy from Chris Robshaw.
In contrast, Irish had some fresh faces with former Harlequin Tom Guest, Tom Court and Samoan Dan Leo all featuring in the pack.
In the third minute, Quins had the first chance for points but Evans surprisingly missed a straightforward penalty attempt before Irish suffered two blows in quick succession.
First, Irish full back Tom Homer limped off to be replaced by Tom Fowlie before Evans give his side the lead by kicking a more difficult penalty.
Irish were starved of possession in the opening 10 minutes and inevitably Quins made them pay. Charlie Matthews won a line-out before a clever flick-on by Mike Brown sent Monye flying into the corner for a try which Evans converted with a splendid kick.
It was proving to be a mixed bag on the kicking front for Evans as moments later he failed with a routine penalty so, despite totally dominating the opening quarter, Quins only led 10-0 at the end of it.
The concession of a number of penalties by the Quins allowed Irish their first foothold in the game and they were rewarded with their first points when Geraghty fired over a long-range penalty.
This proved to be only a temporary respite for the Irish as once again they suffered two setbacks in quick succession.
Centre Eamonn Sheridan was sin-binned for a deliberate offside and from the resulting penalty, Evans made no mistake.
Quins also lost a player through injury when Monye departed to be replaced by Lindsay-Hague before Matthews gave away a foolish penalty, which Geraghty kicked to briefly keep Irish in contention before Quins struck again.
They moved the ball wide allowing Nick Easter to feed Lindsay-Hague.
The wing had little space in which to move but he easily evaded a dreadful attempt at a tackle from Topsy Ojo to score Quins' second try, which Evans converted for a healthy 20-6 interval lead.
Early in the second half, Marlar collected a yellow card for a tip tackle on David Paice, enabling Geraghty to kick his third penalty and, minutes later, Quins were down to 13 men when Sinckler was sin-binned for a high tackle on Paice.
Marlar returned in time to see Geraghty kick another penalty but Irish could not capitalise as Quins were restored to 15 men with no further damage done.
Geraghty was again on target to reduce the arrears to five points but Irish could make no further inroads and Quins held on.