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Aviva Premiership: Harlequins too strong for Exeter Chiefs
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Harlequins ran in three tries on their way to a 22-6 triumph over Exeter at Twickenham on Saturday.
A crowd of 74,827 at Twickenham saw Nick Evans, Charlie Walker and Mike Brown score first-half tries as the 2012 champions led 19-3 at the half.
But they could only then manage a penalty from Evans as the entertainment produced in the first half of 'Big Game Six' was replaced by an arm wrestle that finished 3-3 on the scoreboard.
Former All Blacks fly-half Evans endured a mixed afternoon, kicking two conversions and a penalty but missing eight points from the kicking tee.
Hooker Dave Ward finished man of the match after proving a constant thorn in Exeter's side at the breakdown and there were also notable performances from centre Matt Hopper and wing Charlie Walker.
Exeter's hopes of replacing them in fourth may have been foiled, but director of rugby Conor O'Shea will be ruing the failure to claim all five points.
The Chiefs became more successful at disrupting their fast-paced offloading game, but a dominant third quarter deserved better than a solitary Evans penalty.
A breathless opening signposted the action to come in a high-energy first half that saw both sides attack at every opportunity.
It took just over two minutes for Quins to run in the first try after a turnover from Ward launched the attack just as Exeter had offered an overlap on the left.
Quins exploited it in a flash with quick hands from Nick Easter and Luke Wallace sending Evans racing over.
Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson landed a penalty after Matt Hopper had tip-tackled Jason Shoemark and the Chiefs were playing with an ambition that was unrewarded on the scoreboard.
A break from their own 22 ended with Luke Arscott kicking the ball away aimlessly, Dave Ewers surged through the line only to concede a penalty and Shoemark failed to pass having sped clear.
In contrast Quins were more clinical and after Tom Casson and Brown had been kept a bay with desperate defending, they added two fine tries.
Exeter's line was stretched as Easter spearheaded an attack down the left wing and Walker finished in the opposite corner after stepping Tom Johnson.
The try came with the added bonus of Jack Nowell being sin-binned for a tip-tackle on Hopper, although Exeter will feel aggrieved that Hopper escaped a similar punishment for his near-identical offence earlier on.
Just seconds of the first half remained when Quins struck for a third time, Care darting through a gap at the breakdown following another steal from Ward and sending Brown over.
A long-range penalty from Steenson shortly after the interval offered Exeter a glimmer of hope, but they lacked the firepower to mount a serious comeback.
The second half was more attritional than the first and it was Quins who were winning the slugfest as they camped deep in opposition territory in search of
the bonus point.
Arscott made a key tackle to stop a try in the left corner and Quins finished with three points from Evans to restore an unassailable lead.
Exeter controlled the final 15 minutes as they searched for a bonus point of their own and would have crossed had Arscott's pass been more forgiving.
A succession of penalties and set pieces followed until referee JP Doyle finally blew the whistle and the dying moments saw Quins search in vain for the fourth try.
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|Friday 14th November|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|19:45||Northampton vs Exeter|
|Saturday 15th November|
|14:00||Sale vs London Irish|
|17:00||Bath vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 16th November|
|13:00||Leicester vs Saracens|
|15:15||Wasps vs London Welsh|
|Friday 21st November|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Sale|
|20:00||Newcastle vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|15:00||London Irish vs Bath|
|15:00||Exeter vs Wasps|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|13:00||Saracens vs Northampton|
|15:15||London Welsh vs Leicester|
|Friday 28th November|
|19:45||Bath vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 29th November|
|15:00||Leicester vs Wasps|
|16:30||Exeter vs Saracens|
|Sunday 30th November|
|13:00||London Irish vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Northampton|
|15:15||Newcastle vs Sale|
|Saturday 20th December|
|14:00||Sale vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Bath|
|15:00||Northampton vs Leicester|
|15:00||Saracens vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 12th October|
|Wasps 29 - 22 Bath|
|Saturday 11th October|
|Northampton 43 - 10 Sale Sharks|
|Saracens 28 - 21 Gloucester|
|Exeter 44 - 24 London Irish|
|London Welsh 3 - 23 Newcastle|
|Friday 10th October|
|Leicester 22 - 16 Harlequins|
|Sunday 5th October|
|Newcastle 29 - 24 Exeter|
|Sale 25 - 14 Wasps|
|Saturday 4th October|
|Gloucester 33 - 16 Leicester|
|Harlequins 52 - 0 London Welsh|
|London Irish 12 - 19 Northampton|
|Friday 3rd October|
|Bath 21 - 11 Saracens|
|Sunday 28th September|
|Wasps 35 - 18 Newcastle|
|Exeter 36 - 13 Harlequins|
|Saturday 27th September|
|Northampton 31 - 24 Bath|
|Leicester 19 - 22 London Irish|
|Saracens 40 - 19 Sale Sharks|
|Friday 26th September|
|London Welsh 10 - 46 Gloucester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|Newcastle 10 - 35 Northampton|
|Saturday 20th September|
|Bath 45 - 0 Leicester|
|Harlequins 26 - 23 Wasps|
|London Irish 32 - 36 Saracens|
|Sale 46 - 8 London Welsh|
|Friday 19th September|
|Gloucester 22 - 25 Exeter|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Newcastle 18 - 20 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com