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Sunday, November 7, 1999 Published at 19:35 GMT


Sport: Rugby Union

Quins steal Irish thunder

Chris Sheasby: Scored the winning try

London Irish 16-17 Harlequins

Harlequins scored a stoppage time try to win a thrilling encounter with London Irish at the Stoop by a single well-deserved point.

It was a testing confrontation that derived its excitement as much from mistakes as the brilliance of the play.

The Exiles looked to have the match sewn up going into the interval, with star fly-half Stephen Bachop calling all the shots and the momentum clearly moving their way.

Cunningham on song

But the visitors who came out for the second half with the greater intent, stifling the much-vaunted Irish backline - despite losing centre Will Carling to gastric 'flu - and confining the home side to their own 22 for the last 10 minutes.

The pressure was converted into points with a minute to go, as Chris Sheasby was driven over for the deciding try.

Rob Liley gave Quins an early 6-0 advantage with two well-taken penalties during a scrappy opening passage of play.

Irish soon established control, however, with Bachop sending tumbling kicks deep into Quins' territory. Jarrod Cunningham slotted two penalties in reply to level the scores at 6-6.

The first try came when the Samoan fly-half exhibited his vision by floating a 30-yard pass into space for Connor O'Shea to latch onto. The Irish fullback outstripped Harlequins' flailing defence, then delivered a pass inside to Cunningham before collecting again to slide over in the corner.

The wing put the conversion over and added a penalty to establish a solid 10-point lead.

Liley drillled over two more penalties either side of half time to pull his side to within four points.

The rest of the half was a fascinating duel of attack and counterattack, with Peter Richards denying Irish their one clear chance of a second try by intercepting Bachop's pass on the Quins tryline and running the ball out of trouble.

Harlequins stuck grimly to their task despite often desperate defensive scrambling. With 80 minutes on the clock, they chose to kick a penalty into touch by the corner flag and drove the subsequent lineout over the Exiles' line for the Sheasby try.

Teams

London Irish : O'Shea, Bishop, Whetstone, Todd, Cunningham, Bachop, Putt, N Hatley, Howe, Fullman, Strudwick, Harvey, Boer, Dawson, Gabey.
Replacements : S Hatley, Horak, Flavin, Mower, Halford, Galacher, Worsley.

Harlequins: O'Leary, Keyter, Mensah, Carling, Dallow, Liley, Richards, Leonard, Ridgway, Graham, Morgan, White-Cooper, Jenkins, Sanderson, Sheasby.
Replacements : Harries, Llewellyn, Murphy, Nepia, Leach, Officer, Rees.

Referee : C Rees (RFU)



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