Harlequins 'swing the bat' to reach first Champions Cup semi in Bordeaux-Begles thriller - Hindustan Times
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Harlequins 'swing the bat' to reach first Champions Cup semi in Bordeaux-Begles thriller

AFP |
Apr 13, 2024 11:01 PM IST

Harlequins 'swing the bat' to reach first Champions Cup semi in Bordeaux-Begles thriller

Harlequins director of rugby Billy Millard said on Saturday his side "swung the bat" to reach their first Champions Cup semi-final, edging a highly-fancied Bordeaux-Begles 42-41 in a breathtaking game in France.

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Both sides scored six tries before France scrum-half Maxime Lucu missed a relatively straightforward late conversion which would have claimed victory for the hosts.

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Quins, in their 13th campaign in the tournament, will play record five-time champions Toulouse or Exeter, who meet in France on Sunday, on the weekend of May 3-5 in the last four.

"We knew we had to dig deep and we knew we had to swing the bat, we knew we had to play," Millard told reporters, using a cricket reference.

"The one thing you know about this competition is that each game you progress it gets tougher, whoever comes up will be another step up," he added.

The two-time English Premiership winners raced into a 14-0 lead after just nine minutes thanks to a try from scrum-half Will Porter, standing in for the experienced Danny Care, and a penalty try.

Referee Andrea Piardi awarded the second touchdown after Bordeaux-Begles' fly-half Mateo Garcia knocked down a pass from Marcus Smith in the build-up.

In 29 degrees Celsius heat in south-west France the hosts' substitutes brought on umbrellas to shadow players on the field from the sun during a break in play after a quarter of an hour.

By the interval Harlequins were just 40 minutes away from a historic win.

They led 28-12 after Porter claimed his second try and flanker Will Evans crashed over in reply to scores from Lucu and Romain Buros for the home side. - Tambwe double -

Lucu moved across to fly-half with Garcia off injured. The positional change paid off three minutes into the second half. France centre Nicolas Depoortere broke free and Lucu's conversion cut the deficit to 28-19.

Lucu,looking comfortable at outside-half, kicked a long-range penalty to make it 28-22 with less than half an hour to play.

By the 60 minute there were still six points in it at 35-29 after No 8 Alex Dombrandt crossed for the visitors before winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey followed suit for Bordeaux-Begles who had stunned Saracens in the last 16.

The lead changed hands twice in a frantic final quarter. Congolese winger Madosh Tambwe strolled over for the French club and full-back Tyrone Green crossed for the Quins, who led 42-36.

With four minutes to play, Tambwe claimed his second, setting up Lucu for a match-winning conversion but the France playmaker missed and Quins held on for a landmark win.

Later Saturday, there is a repeat of the 2022 and 2023 finals as Leinster host two-time champions La Rochelle in front of a sold-out Landsdowne Road before an in-form Northampton welcome a second-string Bulls.

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This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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