A last-gasp Marcus Smith penalty fired Harlequins into the final 16 of the Champions Cup, and strengthened his declare to the England No 10 shirt.
The 22-year-old scored 16 factors, in a recreation the English champions had been lucky to win as they had been run ragged by a razor-sharp Cardiff back-line all through, however a scrummaging masterclass from Joe Marler laid the platform for Smith to work his magic.
“It’s a reduction,” Smith stated. “I don’t suppose we had been on the races in opposition to a really robust Cardiff aspect. It’s testomony to the fellows and what we’re attempting to construct. We caught in there and we’re very resilient at occasions.
“To be rewarded with a penalty in entrance of the sticks by the forwards was a large reduction. All season the forwards have been the distinction for us. As backs we’re very fortunate to be taking part in behind a pack that when it will get on high, stays on high.
“Their potential to decide strains off me makes it really easy for me and among the tries had been good particular person bits however as a staff, we have now to preserve specializing in gelling as a squad.”
It was a travesty this recreation was performed behind closed doorways, with among the rugby of the best class and Cardiff’s Owen Lane additionally excellent.
After a interval of early stress, a well-executed cross-kick by Smith was gathered by Louis Lynagh. The Australian reduce inside Hallam Amos earlier than exhibiting his energy to energy his manner over the road for his or her opening strive. After a number of phases, the ball was unfold huge to Lane who disregarded some weak tackling to rating on the far right-hand nook.
Jarrod Evans added the extras and Cardiff had been quickly celebrating their second strive. Samoan centre Rey Lee-Lo sliced Quins open with a 70-metre break earlier than offloading to Josh Adams. The Wales worldwide was hauled down by Tyrone Inexperienced, however after a interval of sustained stress, James Ratti squeezed over from brief vary. Cardiff buckled within the scrum which resulted in prop Dmitri Arhip getting despatched to the sin-bin, they usually made essentially the most of their numerical benefit with one other cross-kick from Smith main to Inexperienced touching down. Some glowing work from Smith with a misleading inside move to Alex Dombrandt despatched Luke Northmore over for a strive.
Smith transformed, however Cardiff refused to throw within the towel, and had been ready to construct some stress within the Harlequins 22 which resulted in Dombrandt getting proven a yellow card for killing the ball on the breakdown. After huffing and puffing on the visiting strive line Wales worldwide Dillon Lewis barged over for Cardiff’s third strive, with Evans changing to nudge Cardiff forward.
The sport then turned fully on its head with a well-weighted kick from Amos gathered by Lane who acrobatically completed on the far left-hand nook. The referee and the TMO deliberated, however the strive was ultimately awarded. Harlequins had been getting ripped to shreds as a beautiful offload from Lee-Lo went by way of the fingers of Seb Davies and Shane Lewis-Hughes, earlier than Lane charged up the touchline. The ball was recycled by Cardiff with an inside move from Willis Halaholo permitting Corey Domachowski to rating. Smith danced his well past three defenders to rating an important try to stage the scores within the course of earlier than touchdown the match-winning penalty.
“You desire to to suppose you possibly can shut these video games out, however if you happen to watch Harlequins that’s a daily day on the workplace for them, they’re by no means crushed till the ultimate whistle,” stated Cardiff director of rugby Dai Younger. “I by no means felt snug. I’m pleased with the trouble and the way in which we performed.”