|Harlequins (15) 23|
|Tries: Dombrandt 2, Smith Con: Smith Pen: Smith 2|
|Wasps (8) 32|
|Try: T Willis, Oghre, Young, J Willis Cons: Gopperth 3 Pen: Gopperth 2|
Chris Robshaw was denied victory in his final match at The Stoop, as Premiership play-off hopefuls Wasps fought back to beat 14-man Harlequins.
Robshaw played a part in the first of Alex Dombrandt’s two first-half tries, which put Quins 15-8 up at the break after Tom Willis grabbed Wasps’ try.
Marcus Smith added to the lead before Elia Elia was shown a 53rd-minute red card for a tip tackle on Dan Robson.
Gabriel Oghre, Thomas Young and Jack Willis tries completed Wasps’ comeback.
Wasps’ late turnaround for the bonus-point win lifts them to second in the table with one match remaining and capable of earning a home semi-final if they beat competition pacesetters Exeter in their final regular season fixture.
A Stoop farewell with fireworks
Former England captain Robshaw, who helped Quins win their first and only Premiership title in 2011-12, announced in February that he would leave the London club at the end of the season.
While the coronavirus-enforced break in the season has extended his 16-year stay by a number of months, the pandemic meant his farewell at The Stoop was played in a near-deserted ground.
There was a pyrotechnics display and members of both clubs applauded the 34-year-old as he took the field, but it was a farewell for a club great robbed of much pomp and atmosphere, highlighting again just how much the game continues to miss its fans.
It was an issue that was brought into sharp focus earlier in the day with the Rugby Players’ Association saying a government-backed rescue package is of “vital importance” to the game in England during the public health crisis.
Wasps make most of man advantage
On the field, Robshaw was instrumental in creating Quins’ first try, collecting a loose ball from a line-out which eventually led to Dombrandt touching down just moments after coming off the bench.
Wasps had started brightly against a Harlequins side that was forced to reshuffle their front row just before kick-off, as prop Santiago Garcia Botta failed a late fitness test and was replaced by Marc Thomas, while Elia came in at hooker after Scott Baldwin was injured in the warm-up.
The visitors’ dominance at the scrum early on eventually led to Tom Willis going over for the game’s first try.
Dombrandt levelled and again sliced through the Wasps defence just after the half-hour mark to edge Quins ahead for the first time.
Smith, who traded penalties with Jimmy Gopperth to finish the first half, produced the moment of the night for Quins’ third try immediately after the break, collecting his own chipped kick to race away and score.
Moments after Quins had Elia sent off, Wasps took full advantage with Oghre touching down.
A penalty from Smith put the Londoners eight-points up, a lead they maintained when Wasps’ Jack Willis had a try ruled out for a knock-on with 17 minutes remaining.
However, Young’s converted try with seven minutes left put Wasps within a point of Quins, and Jack Willis competed the remarkable turnaround just three minutes later with a try that also sealed a vital try-scoring bonus point.
‘Gutted for Robshaw’ - post-match reaction
Harlequins boss Paul Gustard:
“Chris’ record speaks for itself. He’s been outstanding and I’m personally gutted for him that he didn’t win his final game at the Stoop.
“It’s obvious - the tackle was the vital moment. We conceded 24 points after the red card. At that point we were 20-8 up.
“They scored 24 points and we only scored three. You do the maths. The momentum was massively with us and then we lost that player.
“It was a late tackle. He felt he was committed to the tackle, but under the way it’s interpreted now you have to check out of that. I thought the referee did pretty well and I supported the decision.”
Wasps head coach Lee Blackett:
“In the first half they had the advantage, but our bench gave us a great impact. And you still have to go and win games when they go down to 14.
“It’s the confidence of the group to come back. Did we play well? No. But it’s coming to the business end, so it’s about results now.”
Harlequins: Brown; Ashton, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Morris; Smith, Steele; Thomas, Elia, Louw; Lamb, Young, Robshaw (capt), Evans, J Chisholm.
Replacements: Head, Els, Kerrod, Cavubati, Dombrandt, Care, Herron, Lang.
Sent-off: Elia (53)
Wasps: Minozzi; Kibirige, Fekitoa, Gopperth, Bassett; Umaga, Robson (capt); Harris, Cruse, Brookes, Rowlands, Gaskell, Shields, J Willis, T Willis.
Replacements: Oghre, West, Toomaga-Allen, Cardall, Barbeary, Young, Vellacott, Le Bourgeois.
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