Harlequins turn the formbook on its head with victory over Old Bs
BRISTOL Harlequins hope a hard-fought midweek home Combination Vase victory over Old Bristolians will boost confidence and help the club pull clear of the Western Counties North relegation zone.
Old Bs had already completed a league double over their rivals and were favourites to go through to the last four.
But Quins turned the formbook upside down for a 12-3 success in the mud and rain and provide a timely boost to morale after securing only one win in their seven previous league outings.
That run of form has seen the Brislington side slide to 11th place, just four points clear of Berry Hill and five ahead of neighbours Keynsham, both of whom have a game in hand.
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Danny Phillips, who took charge on the sidelines in the absence of coach Mark Rogers, said: "It's a great result for us. Confidence has been on the low side and this will definitely help.
"If I'm honest, we should have come away with a couple more tries in the first half and I'm a bit disappointed with our discipline as we gave away too many penalties.
"But the conditions suited us and we took advantage. Mark's done a good job with our forwards and here we were strong once again at the set-piece, while the stop-start nature of the game also helped us."
Quins, playing with the slope and wind at their backs, made the perfect start with an early converted try from Lee Pearn after scrum-half Ross Hickery and livewire flanker Lee Jones had combined well.
And Hickery stretched the lead to 12 points when he dived in to get the touchdown as the visitors' pack was shunted backwards at a five-metre scrum.
The big question at half time was whether 12 points would be enough with the gusting wind a huge factor to secure victory.
But Quins took such a grip on the match up front that Old Bs were rarely able to break out of their own half and retrieved only three points thanks to a Jack Price penalty before the rain rolled in and conditions totally deteriorated for the final 20 minutes. Next up tomorrow for Quins is a crucial trip down the road to Keynsham for a derby which has already been cancelled three times because of the weather and fitness of the main pitch at the Crown Field.
Fingers are similarly crossed at North Bristol whose rearranged promotion tangle with Barton Hill will also be the subject to a late inspection.
Both Bristol sides in National Two South are at home tomorrow. Dings Crusaders, who entertain basement battlers Barking, call up Jack Nowell at centre in place of Marcus Brooker. And up front, Dave Bufton comes in at lock for Joe Joyce.
Clifton, fresh from an important win at Lydney, have another West Country derby, this time against Taunton.
Old Reds, meanwhile, will be home to Cleve in South West One West, kick off time?
The Somerset Cup quarter-final between Bridgwater & Albion and Weston-super-Mare has been brought forward to tonight (8pm).