Harlequins outclass Gloucester to storm to first victory of the season

Harlequins had new fly-half Demetri Catrakilis taken to hospital as a precaution after the South African momentarily stopped breathing in the first half of a win secured by tries from Dave Ward, Charlie Walker and England wing Marland Yarde.

The 28-year-old Catrakilis, who joined from French club Montpellier in the summer to replace the retired maestro Nick Evans, had kicked an early penalty goal and was 10 minutes into his home debut for Harlequins when an accidental shoulder to the throat left him struggling to breathe.

Catrakilis was taken from the field on a stretcher, and needed an oxygen mask, but he was able to walk and in his place substitute Marcus Smith showed flashes of the talent that has got south-west London buzzing about the 18-year-old.

And while England full-back Mike Brown celebrated a win on his record-breaking 282nd appearance for Quins in the open era, to improve the mood after last week’s season-opening loss to London Irish, the reverse was true for Gloucester, who were unable to add to their day-one success over the champions Exeter.


Demetri Catrakilis receives on-pitch treatment (Getty)

There was thunder and lightning over The Stoop, and stormy scenes on the pitch as Joe Marler at one point grabbed his Harlequins and England front-row team-mate Kyle Sinckler by the scruff of the neck to prevent the tighthead prop going too far in his angry protests over a Gioucester try that had the teams seven points apart with 53 minutes played.

Quins had been leading 17-3 at half-time after Billy Burns equalised Catrakilis’s initial penalty, and flanker Ward and wing Walker rampaged to tries, with Ward’s effort featuring a sumptuous one-handed pass by Sinckler.

A possible case of blocking in the build-up to Clarke’s score appeared to incense Sinckler but Marler, who had been involved in a few mild scuffles himself with Gloucester’s Fraser Balmain, acted quickly to calm his fellow prop down.

Sinckler was substituted almost immediately but Quins’ director of rugby John Kingston said it was always planned to send new England cap Will Collier on at that time.

“They bounce off each pretty well,” Kingston, a former prop himself, said of Marler and Sinckler, who both toured with the British & Irish Lions in the summer.

“I like to see competitors in the team. Mike Brown is a competitor, he gives his all to the club, he always has done and always will. He was pretty cheesed off last week.”

After hot-prospect Smith had been ushered in centre stage, and missed a straightforward penalty kick with 20 minutes gone, the youngster soon grew in confidence and influence.


Marland Yarde looks to make the offload as he’s brought to the deck (Getty)

Smith converted Ward’s score to put Quins 10-3 up and even a temporary deluge that left big puddles around the touchlines did not stop the home side unleashing an lovely handling move for their second try, three minutes before half-time.

Smith’s footwork and neat pass sent Walker racing over halfway, and when the supporting Yarde was tackled his pop pass was taken by Walker to score, with Smith adding the conversion.

Brown turned 32 last Monday, but as he overtook Nick Easter’s record for modern-day appearances, the grizzly No.15 showed the skills and hunger that have become familiar since his debut against Doncaster back in October 2005.

Two penalties by Smith either side of a kick he jabbed wide to the right, put Quins 13 points clear, and the fresh-faced pivot showed he had the appetite for the fight.

Having not been cleared to play after a concussion until Friday morning, Smith needed to change jerseys after sustaining a bloody nose in a head-on tackle.

Smith was getting treated for cramp when Danny Care launched the cross-kick that brought Quins’ third try , with Yarde taking Brown’s pass to score.

The only obvious worry for Quins was a faulty line-out and a scrappy one in the last minute allowed replacement flanker Jacob Rowan a try converted by Billy Twelvetrees.

Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann was unhappy with his team’s performance, saying: “It was very disappointing, not only because of the result but also the way we played.

“If you look at the mistakes we made, we made it so easy for Harlequins. We need a good hard look at ourselves.”

Brown said: “I’m just happy we got the win against a Gloucester team who were confident after last week. We played the conditions really well.”

Harlequins: tries: Ward, Walker, Yarde; conversions: Smith 2; penalties: Catrakilis, Smith 2.

Gloucester: tries: Clarke, Rowan; conversions: Burns, Twelvetrees; penalty: Burns.

Harlequins: M Brown; M Yarde, J Marchant, J Roberts, C Walker (rep W Stanley, 39-41 mins); D Catrakilis (M Smith 13), D Care; J Marler (M Lambert 75), J Gray (E Elia 75), K Sinckler (W Collier 54), G Merrick (B Glynn 59), J Horwill (capt), C Robshaw, D Ward (M Luamanu 54), J Clifford.

Gloucester: J Woodward (C Sharples 71); O Thorley, M Scott, A Symons, H Purdy; B Burns, W Heinz (capt; B Vellacott 63); J Hohneck (V Rapava Ruskin 52), R Hibbard (M Matu’u 63), F Balmain (J Afoa 45), T Savage (E Slater 52), J Thrush, F Clarke (J Rowan 63), L Ludlow, R Ackermann.

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