Nathan Earle’s tries lead Harlequins to narrow win at Gloucester

first_imgGloucester Share on Facebook … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Northampton secure victory in breathless encounter at Bristol Alex Goode leads the charge for irrepressible Saracens against Bath Premiership Topics Joe Marler was making his first appearance for Harlequins since deciding to roll away from international rugby. Opposite him was Cipriani, desperate to continue at Test level but outside looking in again. As the 10 reflected on the insistence of the England head coach, Eddie Jones, that form was his barometer, he may have asked himself how so many Quins had made it.Mike Brown was one, making his first appearance of the season and typically competitive, but it was someone who had dropped out of favour, Marcus Smith, who tilted the game after replacing Lang at No 10. He kicked two penalties and, after Sharples had regained the lead for Gloucester 12 minutes from time, landed a third having blown his clean break by slipping and conceding a scrum that the home prop Alex Seville rashly used his hands in after Quins’ three front-row replacements applied pressure.Gloucester had a final rally when their ploy was to get the ball to Matt Banahan, but they had not worked out a way to win and another twisted scrum marked their end on a day when even Cipriani got lost in the uniformity spawned by the relentless quest to entertain. match reports Share on LinkedIn Read more Whatever happened to staple English fare? This offering was typical of what is being served up in the Premiership, fast, fluid, frantic, furious and, at times, fractious, but fulfilling? It was like gorging greedily on a rich trifle without pausing for a sip of water. There was little strategic about the play at a period in the game when possession is king – exciting but ephemeral as Harlequins won away in the league for the first time in 12 months.It is about waiting for mistakes, as the first two tries demonstrated.Gloucester scored the first, from a lineout near their 22, after Martin Atkinson’s short pass to Jake Polledri caught out the visitors’ fly-half James Lang who had shaped to tackle with his inside shoulder only to find the danger on his outside. The flanker sprinted 40 metres before finding Danny Cipriani on his left and the outside-half comfortably outstripped the cover. The Observer Cipriani had an instrumental role in the next try four minutes later, scored by one of Harlequins’ five England squad members, Nathan Earle.Gloucester were moving left when Cipriani passed to the flanker Lewis Ludlow who was standing too flat and close. Like a batsman beaten for pace, all Ludlow could do was flick the ball on and it fell for Earle 60m out.Earle’s second came from the kick-off. Harlequins moved the ball from their 22, spotting space wide. Three quick passes put Joe Marchant into the gap and it was a question of the centre timing his pass to Earle. He waited until he had reached the home 22, committing the cover before releasing the ball, although Gloucester’s full-back Tom Hudson nearly thwarted the try.From a position of comfort, Gloucester were 12-5 down. They set up camp in Quins’ 22, kicking five penalties to touch even though their mauls tended to lurch rather than roll. They eventually went for the posts, Cipriani kicking two penalties to cut his side’s deficit to a point. The second came after the second-row forward Matt Symons received a yellow card for his side’s persistent infringing. Gloucester exploited their man advantage two minutes from the interval when their forwards stormed the gainline and Atkinson’s long pass led to Charlie’s Sharples’ fifth try of the season.Quins drew level with Lang penalties either side of the interval. On top of their dismal away record, they had lost 13 of their previous 16 league fixtures. If Paul Gustard has not sat on defence since moving to the Stoop from Twickenham in the summer, there were times here when they, like Gloucester, needed to take a breath but this is a Premiership campaign when a team has kept its line intact only once, Exeter against Leicester on the opening weekend. Share on Twitter Read more Share on Messenger Rugby union Harlequins Share via Email Support The Guardian Share on Pinterest Share on WhatsApp Since you’re here… Reuse this contentlast_img read more