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Worcester Warriors will play host to three-time winners Harlequins in their maiden European Rugby Challenge Cup meeting at Sixways on Saturday.
The Warriors’ have home advantage after finishing with 22 points but are 17 points behind their opponents in the Gallagher Premiership table. You can watch the last eight tie on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS from 20:15 GMT.
Worcester Warriors: 1st, Pool 2, 22 points
Harlequins: 1st, Pool 5, 21 points
Worcester Warriors wins: First meeting
Draw: First meeting
Harlequins wins: First meeting
Worcester Warriors: Jamie Shillock (28), Tom Howe (20), Duncan Weir and Jono Lance (both 13)
Harlequins: Marcus Smith (49), Alex Dombrandt and Joe Marchant (both 15)
🎥 "You realise how quickly things can be taken away so I've learnt to be grateful."@cornell_du talks about overcoming injury and his change of mindset as he returns to action… pic.twitter.com/9qn1wC3zPo
— Worcester Warriors ⚔️ (@WorcsWarriors) March 27, 2019
Duncan Weir (Worcester): “We’ve worked so hard as a team and as a collective to get us a home quarter-final. It’s great we’ve got knockout rugby at what no doubt will be a packed out Sixways. It’s now down to us to go forward even more in the competition.”
Paul Gustard (Harlequins): “We are pleased to have reached the knockout stages of European rugby for the first time in three years, but now we want – and we need – to forge and create a new history at the club.”
- Flanker Cornell du Preez is named among the Worcester replacements, after recovering from a fractured larynx suffered in September on his debut for the club. Duncan Weir replaces fly-half Jono Lance, who suffered a head injury last week.
- Harlequins pair Alofa Alofa and Lewis Boyce replace injured centre Joe Marchant and prop Joe Marler. Prop Will Collier makes his 150th appearance for Quins and wing Ross Chisholm his 100th.
- Worcester and Harlequins have never met in European competition before, however, the Warriors have won their last three home games in the Gallagher Premiership against Quins.
- Worcester have lost their last five Challenge Cup games against Premiership opposition, with the defeats coming by an average margin of 13 points.
- This will be the fifth time Harlequins have met Premiership opposition in the knockout stage of the Challenge Cup, winning three of their previous four such including both quarter-finals.
- This is the seventh time Harlequins have reached the quarter-finals, progressing from five of their previous six appearances, and the fourth time Worcester have reached this stage (W3), with their last quarter-final appearance coming 10 years ago in 2008/09.
- Worcester made more tackles (927) than any other side in the pool stage this season, despite this they were the only side to manage a success rate of 90%+ (91%).
- Harlequins’ lineout success rate of 74% was the worst in the pool stage; they lost an average of 3.3 per game on their own throw.
- Worcester’s Andrew Kitchener made 59 tackles in the pool stage without missing one, and no player in the Challenge Cup made more while maintaining a 100% success rate.
- Harlequins’ Marcus Smith made eight passes that led to a break in the pool stage, and only Zebre Rugby’s Carlo Canna (12) made more.
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Harlequins will play in their sixth European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final next month after a narrow 18-16 victory over Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Saturday night.
Demetri Catrakilis was the Harlequins hero with a 75th minute penalty to clinch victory in what was a topsy-turvy affair throughout.
The visitors’ first foray into the Worcester 22 after 16 minutes resulted in a try after some delightful passing from Mike Brown and Marcus Smith left Cadan Murley with enough room to beat his man and dive over in the corner.
However, Worcester hit back after a terrific bit of play from Duncan Weir. With penalty advantage, the fly-half lofted an inch-perfect crosskick to left wing Bryce Heem, who caught the ball and dotted it down.
Duncan Weir that is absolute perfection 😍
You won't see a more accurate cross-field kick than this brilliant @WorcsWarriors try!
Bryce Heem hits it in-stride and touches down… Superb! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/qeS5ps05qI
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) March 30, 2019
The home side dominated the remainder of the first half, but Harlequins led 8-5 at the interval after Marcus Smith coolly slotted over a late penalty.
However, after 46 minutes Worcester full-back Chris Pennell kicked a delightful ball behind the Quins line, reaching Tom Howe, who took the opportunity to dive over for their second try and put the Warriors 10-8 ahead.
Weir extended the lead with a successful penalty, but Harlequins would not give in. The outstanding Danny Care, lightning quick at the breakdown, played a lovely dink behind the Worcester line, finding Ben Tapuai, who gobbled up the chance. With Catrakilis converting, Quins were back in front at 15-13.
Then, in the space of two minutes, the sides traded penalty kicks, with the crucial one from Catrakilis proving enough to secure Quins’ spot in the last four.
Harlequins will play ASM Clermont Auvergne away in the semi-finals.
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