Heineken Cup: Harlequins off to a flyer with victory over Biarritz
Last Updated: 15/10/12 12:45pm
England scrum-half Danny Care played a starring role as Harlequins beat Biarritz 40-13 in the opening round of the Heineken Cup.
Care scored the first try for the English champions and had a hand in almost all their best attacking moves, orchestrating proceedings behind a solid Quins pack.
After a hard-fought opening 40 minutes, the London side dominated the second half and the perfect start to their campaign was completed by the fourth try and a bonus point two minutes from time.
Care grabbed the opening score in a move straight off the training ground, Chris Robshaw taking a lineout ball and finding the No.9 with an inside pass as he darted through the lineout and dashed in unopposed. Nick Evans converted.
Julien Peyrelongue replied with a penalty for Biarritz before Evans was taken out of the game by a dangerous high-shot from Dane Haylett-Petty, who was fortunate to only miss 10 minutes of it in the sin-bin.
Evans' replacement Ben Botcia's first act was to knock over a 40-metre penalty but Biarritz roared back with a close-range try from hooker Arnaud Heguy and Peyrelongue levelled at 10-10.
A penalty apiece completed the scoring and at 13-13 a tense second half looked in prospect.
In fact it was totally the opposite as Quins ran in 27 unanswered points, the first seven coming courtesy of a low drive from hooker Rob Buchanan after a spell of pressure from the re-start.
Botica added a couple of penalties before Care's burst up the centre broke up the Biarritz defence and after a couple of phases the scrum-half was on hand to put Jordan Turner-Hall crashing over.
The fourth try arrived two minutes from time from a lineout drive through a tiring Biarritz defence, Care finding Mike Brown who shipped the ball on to Seb Stegman to score in the corner.
The Biarritz players complained to the referee that Nick Easter should have been penalised for not releasing the ball as he drove to the line in the build-up.
They had a case and they will have a sense of grievance if that bonus point proves crucial in the final analysis.
With Zebre and Connacht the other two sides in a weak-looking Pool 3, this group may come down to a head-to-head in France when these two sides meet again.
It is admittedly early days, but with a home bonus point from this game in the bag, Harlequins are already looking favourites to qualify for the quarter-finals.