Gustard: First half was lowest point of my career
Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard pulled no punches after witnessing his side being bullied to a big Gallagher Premiership defeat by Worcester Warriors.
It was, remarkably, Worcester’s first league win of 2020 as they perfected the art of the mass driving maul to rock Quins to a 26-0 halftime deficit, a lead way too much for the London club to come back from.
And it put a dent in their chances of a top-six place in the Premiership, which would give them a cherished European Champions Cup spot. Quins are eight points behind Bath and Northampton with matches running out.
Gustard said he was “embarrassed” by his side’s first-half performance. He said: “We never saw that coming. That is not to say we are an arrogant team and we are going to dominate teams physically.
“The team that we picked, we didn’t think they would get steamrollered and that is exactly what happened. That first 40 minutes was one of the lowest points of my coaching career.”
The first half killed any chance of Harlequins getting anything from the match. Worcester scored from three driving line-outs – with the back division adding more muscle to the pack for all of them.
Cornell du Preez, the No8, was on the bottom of the first maul from a five-metre line-out on the Quins line to begin the onslaught. Centre Ollie Lawrence popped over in the middle of the next 13-man maul for the second.
Hooker Niall Annett got the third as Quins were nowhere near able to handle the attacking line-out drives.
The fourth, for Worceser’s bonus point, was also a driving maul from an attacking line-out, but this time Quins were caught napping as the ball fell out of the mass of bodies for scrum-half Francois Hougaard to snipe over from five metres.
Quins’ horrible night was not helped by errors, including a straightforward penalty kick to touch from centre Ben Tapuai in the first period which would have given them an attacking line-out
from five metres but, instead, the ball shot over the dead-ball line.
The London side did manage to fight back in the second period, but the damage had already been done.
Scottish fly-half Duncan Weir added a penalty to three conversions for a 29-0 lead, before a dash down the right by Quins full-back Aaron Morris allowed England wing Chris Ashton to seize a bouncing ball and dive over for a try.
Quins replacement centre Paul Lasike summed up the evening as he spilt a certain try with the line at his mercy.
Harlequins had a last positive moment when replacement hooker Elia Elia squeezed the ball home for a converted try, but that was small beer in the wider context.
For his part, Worcester’s director of rugby Alan Solomons said: “I thought our set-piece was really good, our scrum, our maul and our line-outs.”