Match report: Harlequins Women 27 - Exeter Chiefs Women 52
Caroline Moore at the Twickenham Stoop
Assistant coach Steve Salvin spoke about waiting for Quins to the click…but it was not to be today. If anything, Exeter Chiefs Women were the ‘’clickers puting in a eight-try performance to make it three wins out of three in the Allianz PWR.
Yes, Quins scored a few against the visitors, but that should not take away from a healthy win on the road that saw full-back Merryn Doidge put in a hat-trick performance and hooker Emily Tuttosi score a brace of her own. While the lineout-to-rolling-maul move did the trick for some of these tries, there was plentiful contribution from the rest of the squad to secure the win.
The lineout was a sturdy platform for the Chiefs women today, as was the scrum with No 8 Rachel Johnson and scrum-half Brooke Bradley make a real nuisance of themselves. Chiefs’ first chance came after 10 minutes following from a kick ahead from Bradley with winger Claudia MacDonald racing for the collect but Quins’ full-back Ellie Kildunne got there first.
Just one minute later though and Chiefs were awarded a penalty that Alex Tessier kicked to touch for the lineout. Ready, steady, maul…and Tuttosi went over for her first try, converted by centre Gabby Cantorna.
As the first quarter came to a close, Quins had kicked a penalty to get themselves on the scoreboard but were then pulled up for faffing with the ball at the ruck. Chiefs were awarded the scrum, which saw a bandaged Rachel Johnson peel off the back to eventually release Doidge for her first try of the afternoon.
Quins got on the scoreboard again after 28 minutes with a penalty from centre Lagi Tuima. There was no time to rest for Quins though as Chiefs stole a lineout in their 22, kept it tight in the forwards for prop Abby Middlebrooke to score against the posts.
It sounds like it was all about Chiefs, but we all know Quins are no pushover. No 8 Shaunagh Brown and Kildunne are tricky customers and certainly made their presence felt.
As the first quarter entered its closing stages, Quins wrestled back possession, but a knock-on saw the ball head (almost literally) into Chiefs hands. Looking for that early bonus point, winger Kate Buchanan kicked ahead and almost got there herself but waited for her team-mates to catch up, resulting in Tuttosi going over for her second try.
Quins had their tails up at the start of the second half and after just two minutes, lock Sarah Bonar pulled off a stunning interception to put former Chief Flo Robinson over the line for the home side’s first try.
Time to settle down a little with some solid forward play from the visitors. A Chiefs scrum just five metres from try-line saw Johnson go for a little walk at the back to apply some unwanted pressure. Kildunne had to take the ball behind the try-line as MacDonald was on her heels.
All that pressure paid off. The next time Chiefs were awarded a penalty, they took a quick-tap and Tessier sped over for her first Chiefs try.
The next penalty was kicked to touch with captain Poppy Leitch on the end of this lineout. When it reached the backs, MacDonald sprinted down the wing and passed inside to Doidge for her second.
MacDonald got one of her own minutes later as she casually slipped through the defence from a seemingly innocuous opportunity. Then as the game reached the end of its third quarter, a lineout scooped up by Nichola Fryday fell into Bradley’s hands who combined with the rest of the backline to put Doidge through for her hat-trick try.
The last 20 minutes saw Chiefs let in two tries. The first was from close range by prop Hannah Sims and the second from replacement winger Ella Cromack to bring Quins’ score to 27.
The visitors may rue those late tries but should not underestimate the size of their own achievement in winning away against a very strong side.
Harlequins Women: E Kildunne; E Scott (A Layzell 78mins), L Tuima, R Burford (c) (E Cromack 63mins), B Wilcock (I Mayhew 68mins); B McKenzie, F Robinson; H Sims (S Cooper 78mins), S Turani (C Powell 46mins), B Latsha (B Cleall 46mis), S Bonar, K Leaney (C Cooney 74mins), A Hele (D Lochner 56mins), A Fleming, S Brown (vc)
Tries: F Robinson, Sims, Cromack
Cons: Tuima (3)
Pens: Tuima (2)
Exeter Chiefs Women: M Doidge (vc); C MacDonald, K Kobayashi (D Preece 62mins), G Cantorna, K Buchanan (M McDonald 62mins); A Tessier, B Bradley; A Middlebrooke (P Muzumbe 46mins), E Tuttosi (C Neilson 58-63mins), D Menin (L Hanlon 55mins), L van der Velden (M Allen 62mins), H Millar-Mills (N Fryday 55mins), E Jefferies (M Feaunati 55mins), P Leitch, R Johnson
Tries: Tuttosi (2), Doidge (3), Middlebrooke, Tessier, MacDonald
Cons: Cantorna (6)
Referee: Harry Walbaum