The Harlequins have risen to the top of the Premiership standings following a surprise victory by Bristol over Sale.
Billy Millard was pleased with the significant outcome for Harlequins despite missing some key players, as they claimed a bonus-point 24-3 win against struggling Newcastle to take the top spot in the Gallagher Premiership.
England players Danny Care, Marcus Smith, and Joe Marler did not participate in the trip to the north east. However, Quins managed to take the lead after only 67 seconds with a goal from Nick David. They continued to dominate the game with additional points from André Esterhuizen, Jack Walker, and George Hammond, ultimately securing victory over the home team.
Quins’ triumph moved them from sixth to first place in the standings, at least for the time being. “This win is crucial for us,” stated Millard, the director of rugby for Harlequins. “It wasn’t flawless, but it’s a major victory for us and earns us significant points.”
In the first half, we had opportunities to increase our lead, but we failed to capitalize on three or four of them. Our scrum was exceptional and helped us gain an advantage early on, while our defense performed incredibly well.
Millard was happy to witness his team depart from Kingston Park as the leaders of the league. He expressed, “There’s still a lot of ground to cover, but we’ll gladly accept our current position.” He emphasized the importance of continuously winning as the competition is fiercely close and all other teams are also achieving victories. The points earned were significant for their team.
Alex Sanderson criticized Sale Sharks’ lack of consistency following a detrimental 22-14 loss at home to Bristol Bears. A win would have brought Sharks back to the top of the Premiership, but instead they suffered their first home defeat in 14 months against the third-ranked team, Bears.
The Sharks may drop to sixth place if Bath and Saracens win this weekend. After a tough loss, Sanderson expressed his disappointment. “I’m not concerned about our home record, I just want to see more consistent performances from the team every week,” stated the director of rugby.
“We are currently not achieving what we want, which is extremely disappointing. Despite having chances, especially in the first half, our inconsistent decision-making and lack of discipline led to our downfall. Credit to Bristol for converting their opportunities, while we failed to do so. As a coach, it is frustrating to see this result. However, the players will take responsibility for it, and I am disappointed that we were unable to come out on top.”
Without fly-half George Ford, Sale had difficulty establishing their dominance and found themselves trailing 14-0 in the first half due to tries from Harry Randall and Gabriel Ibitoye. Jonny Hill scored for the home team, but Max Malins delivered a significant hit immediately after halftime and a late penalty from AJ MacGinty nullified Agustín Creevy’s second-half try.