Gloucester Rugby gave it everything at the Stoop and outscored their hosts by three tries to two, but missed kicks proved pivotal as Harlequins eked out a narrow 23-19 Gallagher Premiership victory on Sunday afternoon.
There was very little to choose between the two teams on the day, and Gloucester Rugby were in it right up until the very last play, trailing by just one point, when Marcus Smith slotted a penalty with the last play of the game to secure the win.
Up to then, the lead had changed hands several times and, especially when Ben Morgan crashed over midway through the second half to give his team a 13-19 lead, Gloucester Rugby looked a good bet to take the win.
But it’s a game of small margins. A few decisions went the way of the home side, and a missed penalty on 72 minutes could have seen Gloucester Rugby take an important step forward. But it wasn’t to be.
Quins took an early 3-0 lead, but Ollie Thorley’s opportunist try, spotting a gap around the ruck area and bursting through to score, was converted for 3-7.
Ross Chisholm ghosted his way over for Quins’ first try, Smith converting, but patient build-up play and good hands put Thorley over in the corner for his second and gave Gloucester Rugby a narrow 10-12 lead at half-time.
The home team came out fired up for the second half, and Smith kicked his second penalty for 13-12, but Morgan burst clear from a ruck 10 metres out to power over. Cipriani converted for 13-19 and the Cherry and Whites looked well set.
However, Quins hit straight back, although there looked to be a knock-on in the build-up to Alex Dombrandt’s try. Smith held his nerve to convert for 20-19.
A tense final quarter followed, and Billy Twelvetrees was narrowly wide with a 72 minute penalty before the Cherry and Whites were punished when trying to run the ball from the shadow of their own posts with no time left. A penalty was conceded and Smith made it 23-19 at the final whistle.