Harlequins vs Sale Sharks 23/24 Report

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36 Harlequins
3 Sale Sharks

Fri 01 Dec 7:45pm Twickenham Stoop Attendance: 0

Harlequins vs Sale Sharks

Marcus Smith impressed as Harlequins crushed Premiership leaders Sale 36-3.

In the week that England captain Owen Farrell announced he was stepping back from the Six Nations, his two most likely fly-half replacements in George Ford and Smith faced one another.

Smith’s kick set up Tyrone Green’s first-half try and he also kicked a penalty as Quins led 10-3 at the break.

The number 10 then set up Danny Care’s try before a Sam Riley score and two Will Joseph tries completed the win.

Sale remain top of the Premiership but Quins are now second and one point behind. Saracens, Bath and Exeter all have the chance to go above the Sharks should they win on Saturday.

With England boss Steve Borthwick watching on a freezing night in Twickenham it was Smith who starred out of the two prospective successors to Farrell – his ninth-minute kick was mishandled by Joe Carpenter on the left wing and Green gathered the fumble before coasting in for the opening try.

The Premiership leaders struggled under the high ball and another mistake by Carpenter allowed the field position which led to a Smith penalty kick 13 minutes later before Ford missed a three-pointer from 42 metres soon after.

Ford finally got on the scoreboard with the final kick of the half having seen the hosts superbly defend 16 attacking phases, including 10 on their own line.

But Smith needed only two minutes of the second half to impress again – his dummy and jinking run through the Sale line set up Care to go in under the posts.

Sale had Arron Reed sin-binned nine minutes into the second period and were lucky not to be down to 13 men after Jonny Hill pushed Chandler Cunningham-South through the advertising hoardings and pinned him down on the ground.

But from the penalty Quins kicked to the corner and Riley peeled off the maul from the resulting line-out for their third try.

Sale’s night was summed up soon after as they were turned over five metres from the home line in a rare venture into the Harlequins red zone, and on the hour Smith was again involved in the bonus-point try.

He passed to Green who exchanged passes with Caden Murley on the left wing before putting Joseph through to cap a flowing move.

Having suffered a 43-0 reversal at Exeter in October, a second big away loss for Sale in their past three road trips was completed seven minutes from the end when Joseph went over in the left corner after 11 phases on the Sale line.

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson told TNT Sports:

“We’re humbled, as you are after every defeat, but never more humbled than when you are at the Stoop because they rub it in your faces.

“I thought Harlequins were brilliant tonight, they beat us in every area barring the scrum, so they were deserving of that victory.

“What I think it shows is for the second time this season when you’re a couple of inches in your head, when you’re off it in those top two inches, you’re miles off it on the scoreboard, and that’s the competition as it is.

“You’ve got to be right mentally otherwise you’re losing all the collisions, losing the kicking battles, and you end up having a long ride home licking your wounds.”

Harlequins: Green; David, Joseph, Esterhuizen, Murley; Smith, Care; Marler, Riley, Lewis, Launchbury, Lamb, Cunningham-South, W Evans, Dombrandt (capt).

Replacements: Jibulu, Baxter, Chawatama, Herbst, Chisholm, Porter, J Evans, Beard.

Sale: Carpenter; Roebuck, R du Preez, Bedlow, Reed; Ford, Warr; McIntyre, Cowan-Dickie, Schonert, Wiese, Hill, van Rhyn, B Curry (capt), D du Preez.  

Replacements: Creevy, Harrison, Opoku-Fordjour, Beaumont, Dugdale, Quirke, James, O’Flaherty.  

Referee: Luc Ramos

Previous meetings

A Sunday
January 8th 2023

Twickenham Stoop
Gallagher Premiership
Sale Sharks
H Friday
November 18th 2022

Salford City Stadium
Premiership Rugby Cup
Sale Sharks
H Sunday
October 23rd 2022

Salford City Stadium
Gallagher Premiership
Sale Sharks