Fixture: Harlequins v London Irish
Competition: Gallagher Premiership, Round 9
Date: Saturday 27th November 2021
Stadium: The Twickenham Stoop Stadium
The return of the Gallagher Premiership this weekend sees London Irish renew their West London rivalry with Harlequins at The Stoop on Saturday afternoon.
The Exiles were only one of three teams to maintain a 100% record throughout the fortnight of Premiership Rugby Cup action – defeating both Northampton Saints and Saracens.
Billy Millard’s side registered their first Cup win last weekend, also against Northampton, thanks to two late tries from Lennox Anyanwu and Luke Wallace.
Heading into this weekend, Quins – the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions – will be bolstered by returning international stars, as they bid to consolidate their top-four status going into December.
Quins will look to better their league-leading overall points scored tally of 786 of last year as they currently lead the way in tries scored in the top-flight with 32; with youngster Louis Lynagh touching down five times.
Irish’s visit to The Stoop in January was as stirring as ever, with the Exiles now Australian international Ollie Hoskins’ late converted try ensuring honours ended even after 80 minutes, in a 27-27 draw.
The boss – Billy Millard
Billy Millard, the Director of Rugby Performance at Harlequins, initially oversaw their success towards the end of last season as the club’s General Manager, liaising with other coaches such as Jerry Flannery regarding selection in the aftermath of Paul Gustard’s departure.
Having sat seventh in the Gallagher Premiership in January, the collective of coaches overturned Quins’ fortunes, winning five of their final seven games to go on and defeat Exeter Chiefs 40-38 in the Twickenham finale.
Having arrived at the Club in 2018, Millard assumed his new role this summer, before former Exile Tabai Matson’s arrival as Head Coach.
The Australian's coaching past includes two Premiership titles with Sydney University as Director of Rugby and a European Challenge Cup and EDF Energy Cup with Cardiff Rugby.
One to Watch – Tyrone Green
In what is just his second term with Quins, South African Tyrone Green has played 80 minutes in all but one Premiership game in the 2021/22 campaign and is one of the league’s outstanding full-backs.
Combined with beating the most defenders (35), Green has recorded the most metres-gained in the division with 864, the next nearest contemporary 152 recorded metres shy of the 24 year-old.
He also boasts four clean breaks, offloads and most crucially, tries – his score against Saracens in Round 7 earning the ‘Try of the Week’ gong in a match where he made 153 metres, with 18 carries.
Classic Encounter – Harlequins 15, London Irish 29 – February 15th 2020 – Gallagher Premiership
Ollie Hoskins’ track record for late tries at The Stoop goes back to 2020, with the prop dotting down to secure the bonus point win against Harlequins.
Irish set the tone and raced into an early lead courtesy of Matt Rogerson, whilst Ben Meehan assisted Curtis Rona to maintain a 17-3 lead at the break.
Quins’ young back-row forward Alex Dombrandt brought his side back into the clash, whilst employing his robust frame to touch down after the interval, but Rona’s charge down of Brett Heron’s kick led to his second and the Exiles’ third.
Cadan Murley received Dombrandt’s pass to score but Hoskins bundled over from a rolling maul to secure Irish’s first back-to-back league wins in over five years, on what was a fine afternoon in West London.
Tries: Alex Dombrandt, Cadan Murley
Conversion: Marcus Smith
Penalty: Marcus Smith
Tries: Matt Rogerson, Curtis Rona (2), Ollie Hoskins
Conversions: Steven Myler (3)
Penalty: Steven Myler
(Preview compiled by Ryan Fitzgerald-Nolan)