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Harlequins and Racing 92 will both be looking to bounce back from opening round defeats when they go head-to-head in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup at Twickenham Stoop on Sunday.
Quins will feel they could and should have taken more from their clash with Cell C Sharks in Durban, slipping to a 39-31 defeat at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, despite having an extra man for 20 minutes.
Racing, meanwhile, were thrashed 42-10 at home to Leinster Rugby, and both sides will know another defeat in Round 2 will make qualification for the knockout stage incredibly difficult.
The Pool A contest kicks off at 17:30 (UK & Irish time) and can be watched on BT Sports, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.
Comeback o'clock ⏰ @JohnnySexton returns to the bench for @leinsterrugby, while @JakePolledri is back for @gloucesterrugby 😍 @madoshtambwe returns for @UBBrugby and @AmLukhanyo is back on @SharksRugby's bench 🔥#HeinekenChampionsCup team news ➡️ https://t.co/TAY8skUcGV pic.twitter.com/q3acalHdq6
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 15, 2022
Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson: “We cannot dwell too much [on the Cell C Sharks defeat] because we have one of the biggest teams in Europe – Racing 92 – coming to the Stoop on Sunday. We take some learnings from that game and then get ready for the new challenge.”
- Achieved the highest rate of gainline success in Round 1 (67%).
- Not only made the fewest tackles in Round 1 (47), but finished against Cell C Sharks with the lowest rate of tackle completion (76%).
- Were the only team who had two players score two tries in Round 1 – Andre Esterhuizen and Josh Bassett. Leinster were the only team to do this in a single game in last season’s competition, with Jack Conan and Dan Sheehan both scoring braces in Round 3.
- Completed 70% of their tackles below the waist in Round 1 – a greater percentage than any other team.
- Retained a round-high one-third of their restarts (two).
- Won four counter-ruck turnovers in the defeat by Leinster – no side managed more in Round 1.
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Harlequins recorded their first win in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup as they did enough to see off 14-man Racing at a rain-soaked Twickenham Stoop on Sunday.
The greasy conditions contributed to countless handling errors from both sides, but the hosts picked their way over twice through George Head and Andre Esterhuizen.
Racing remain winless in this season’s competition – they led at the break thanks to Kitione Kamikamica’s try, but his red card made their second-half task all the more difficult.
Quins got off to an excellent start as hooker Head produced a terrific change of pace to cut through a disjointed Racing defence and cruise in under the posts on his Heineken Champions Cup debut.
Fly-half Tommy Allan added the extras, but Quins’ lead was cut to four points on 13 minutes as Racing counterpart Finn Russell dispatched a penalty.
A greasy pitch and ball made running rugby difficult, and the first half produced a series of scrums, many of which were five metres from the Racing line as Quins piled on the pressure.
A dream debut 🤩@Harlequins forward George Head spots the gap and powers over just minutes in to his first @ChampionsCup appearance.#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/J3GVOHp15h
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 18, 2022
But the hosts came up empty handed, and Racing would eventually make them pay on the stroke of half-time as a period of dominance culminated in No.8 Kamikamica powering over, Russell’s extras putting them 10-7 up at the break.
However, Quins started the second half on the front foot and notched a second try to reclaim the lead on 48 minutes as centre Esterhuizen crashed over from close range.
Kamikamica was dismissed moments later as he thundered into Quins’ Nick David, flipping the full-back head over heels in a dangerous collision in which the officials could see no mitigation.
There would be no further points, though, as Quins’ hopes of taking maximum points from the contest slipped away, with Racing rallying and even threatening on several occasions despite their numerical disadvantage.
Quins and Racing face off again in Round 3, with the Gallagher Premiership side heading to the Paris La Defense Arena on January 15.
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