Aviva Premiership

Harlequins 28 Gloucester 17

GLOUCESTER had a tremendous start to the Aviva Premiership season against Exeter Chiefs on September 1 but that was a distant memory on Saturday as they produced a miserable performance against Harlequins at The Twickenham Stoop.

Where there was passion against Exeter, there was lethargy at Quins and, as such, the Cherry and Whites wilted.

The first-half was pretty turgid with a penalty from each side. South African-born Demetri Catrakilis kicked a 10th-minute penalty before he was carried from the field soon after with what appeared to be a throat injury.

Gloucester fly-half Billy Burns levelled and a niggling, average opening half limped along until a huge thunderstorm brought a deluge of rain to Twickenham Stoop and sparked Quins into life.

Home flanker Dave Ward grabbed the opening try in the 29th minute when centre Joe Marchant and Catrakilis' replacement, 18-year-old Marcus Smith, linked to give the flanker a run under the posts. Smith converted easily.

And, as the noise of the thunder rocked the stadium, Charlie Walker started and finished a brilliant attack through the Gloucester midfield. Smith's conversion from under the posts gave the hosts a 14-point half-time advantage.

As the thunder passed, Gloucester found another gear and were awarded a series of penalties inside the home 22 after Quins were fortunate not to give away a penalty try when lock Jeremy Thrush kicked the ball too hard into the home try area as centre Jamie Roberts bundled into him.

But back row Freddie Clarke put his side a converted try behind when a move near the Quins line saw him dive over from five metres, with Burns adding the extras.

However, Gloucester started pushing the self-destruct button and Quins were soon away and clear.

Teenager Smith booted two out of three kickable penalties and a cross-kick was tapped down by England wing Marland Yarde to England full-back Mike Brown, breaking his club’s appearance record in the professional era on Saturday, who gave the pass back to the wing for an unconverted try.

Gloucester were down and out and not even a late try from Jacob Rowan, which replacement Billy Twelvetrees converted from the touchline for the visitors, could bring a smile to the faces after a miserable afternoon in South West London.