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Quins gunning for strong finish against Castres

Wednesday 19th January 2022

4:00 pm (GMT)

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Quins gunning for strong finish against Castres

Quins No.8 Alex Dombrandt scored seven tries in last season's Heineken Champions Cup

Harlequins will be out to clinch top spot in Pool B when they host qualification-chasing Castres Olympique on Friday night.

Current leaders Quins, who have already secured their Round of 16 berth, should achieve this feat with a bonus-point victory over opponents they have defeated in their last three Heineken Champions Cup encounters.

This run, in which they have conceded fewer than 20 points each time, reversed a four-match winless streak against Castres during which they shipped more than 20 points each time.

The match kicks off at the Twickenham Stoop at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and viewers can watch it on BT Sport or beIN Sports.

Other key facts:

  • Harlequins’ three consecutive wins is their best run in the Heineken Champions Cup since securing four straight victories across the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns.
  • Harlequins fly half Marcus Smith’s 44-point haul is 12 more than any other player in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. He has also scored a try in each of his last two appearances.
  • Castres have lost their last three Heineken Champions Cup matches, albeit by fewer than seven points each time. This is their worst run since suffering 10 consecutive defeats from 2013/14 to 2016/17.
  • Castres have averaged just 61 passes per game in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. This is at least 20 fewer than any other team and less than half Quins’ average of 125.

Key quote:

Harlequins wing Cadan Murphy: “We have had a really good run in Europe with three wins from. We are looking to secure that fourth win and hopefully get some home games at the Stoop in the knockouts in front of our fans, which would be pretty cool.”

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Dombrandt heroics as Quins snatch dramatic win

Friday 21st January 2022

10:40 pm (GMT)

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Dombrandt heroics as Quins snatch dramatic win

Alex Dombrandt celebrates after scoring one of his hat-trick of tries against Castres in Round 4

Alex Dombrandt scored a last-gasp try to complete his hat-trick and hand Harlequins a dramatic 36-33 win over Castres Olympique in the Heineken Champions Cup on Friday night.

Quins had trailed in their final Pool B game as the clock ticked past 80 minutes, but No.8 Dombrandt managed to force his way over the line for a third time to deny Castres a place in the Round of 16.

Visitors Castres got off to the perfect start at Twickenham Stoop as a Quins offside from the kick off gifted them a penalty in front of the posts, which fly-half Ben Botica duly slotted.

Things then got even better for the TOP 14 side as captain Gaetan Barlot sneaked down the blindside following a lineout to score the game’s first try on five minutes, and they would notch a second score moments later when Antoine Zeghdar cruised over after another slick set-piece move.

But Quins would find their feet with a quarter of an hour played, getting on the board as Dombrandt dotted down brilliantly in the corner after good work from winger Cadan Murley.

Botica extended Castres’ lead with a penalty on 21 minutes, but Quins were beginning to showcase their attacking power, and they reduced the deficit when centre Huw Jones pounced on a loose ball to score his first try for the club.

And there would be another first-time try scorer for Quins on 28 minutes, flanker Viliami Taulani crashing over after a maul to put his team in front.

Nevertheless, Quins would head into half time a point down and a man down as prop Joe Marler was shown a yellow card for standing on the hand of Castres scrum-half Rory Kockott, who dashed over in the corner seconds later after a break from winger Filipo Nakosi.

Quins reclaimed the lead early in the second half, however, as Castres failed to deal with a kick from winger Louis Lynagh and Dombrandt was then picked out in space to jog over for his second try of the evening.

Castres were back within a point on 51 minutes, though, as Botica floated a cross field kick into the hands of Nakosi who powered over the line from 10 metres out.

The away side then led once again with just over an hour played, centre Adrea Cocagi diving over from close range after Botica had earlier extraordinarily squandered a fantastic opportunity as he dropped the ball over the line under no pressure.

And Castres looked set to hold on for a crucial win as they heroically repelled a series of Quins attacks in the closing stages, but in a thrilling finale, Dombrandt squeezed through a host of defenders and got the ball down deep into overtime.

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