Rugby Union

Wasps 27-25 Harlequins: Shattered Quins fall inches short of play-offs

Wasps 27-25 Harlequins: Shattered Quins fall inches short of play-off place as James Lang misses last-gasp kick

  • Harlequins came agonisingly close to reaching the play-offs on Saturday
  • After trailing Wasps 24-8, they had a penalty to win the match right at the death
  • But Quins goal kicker James Lang saw his 51-metre penalty fall inches short

Heartbreak all round in Coventry — but Harlequins goal kicker James Lang may take the longest to get over this one.

With time up, Lang had a penalty to book Quins a place in the semi-finals but his 51-metre kick fell inches short.

It was the difference between despair and delight for Quins, who almost overturned a 24-8 deficit in the final quarter.

James Lang watches on as his 51-metre penalty falls inches short for Harlequins on Saturday

James Lang watches on as his 51-metre penalty falls inches short for Harlequins on Saturday

Premiership semifinals 

Exeter v Northampton

4.30pm, May 25 at Sandy Park

Saracens v Gloucester

1.30pm, May 25 at Allianz Arena

The games will be televised back-to-back on BT Sport

Premiership final

Sat, June 1, 3pm, Twickenham

Earlier this year, Quins were eight points clear in fourth place but Lang’s missed kick consigned the Londoners to their sixth defeat in seven games.

‘I didn’t know where to look,’ said distraught Quins coach Paul Gustard. ‘I never thought about finishing fifth. James has got a metronomic boot and the guys backed him to get it.’

Despite emerging victorious on the day, Wasps’ result was not enough to book their place in next season’s Champions Cup.

This was a farewell appearance for seven of their matchday 23 and the club face an ominous rebuilding project over the summer.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: ‘It’s been a tough week for me because I’ve seen a lot of these guys go from boys into men. We’ve got to establish a new leadership group and start again.’

Having led the team out alongside Elliot Daly, scrum-half Joe Simpson scored twice in the second half, while Daly, Nathan Hughes and Willie le Roux were all influental. 

After Marcus Smith had kicked Quins to an early lead, Hughes took a free-kick before sending the ball through the slick hands of Lima Sopoaga, Daly and Le Roux for Josh Bassett to score.

Mike Brown looks dejected after Harlequins are beaten 27-25 by Wasps at the Ricoh Arena

Mike Brown looks dejected after Harlequins are beaten 27-25 by Wasps at the Ricoh Arena

Not for the first time this season, Wasps were impressive for an hour before sloppy mistakes and cheap penalties slipped into their game.

Quins centre Joe Marchant impressed with an early try in front of Eddie Jones before Wasps clicked for large phases, feeding off loose kicks to the backfield.

Sopoaga edged the hosts ahead before half-time, then Simpson scored his first after fine work from Le Roux and Daly.

Simpson darted over after Brad Shields cleared out Chris Robshaw, before being mobbed by his team-mates for the most popular try of the day. The scrum-half added his second five minutes later, with Daly again involved in the build-up.

‘I hope Joe gets recognised as a Wasps legend,’ added Young. ‘People often look at the Heineken Cup-winning teams. Joe hasn’t put his hands on those trophies but that doesn’t make him any less a legend. It was a fitting ending for him.’

Danny Care scored against the base of the posts and Lang kicked his side back into contention. Elia Elia scored to narrow the deficit to 27-25 with four minutes remaining, before Lang watched his late kick drop agonisingly short.

Quins team-mates Alex Dambrandt (right) and Alofa Alofa consoled each other after defeat

Harlequins team-mates Alex Dambrandt (right) and Alofa Alofa console each other after defeat

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