Murley and Marler bag tries as Harlequins romp to 73-28 win over the Barbarians

Joe Marler scored a try and kicked the conversion in Harlequins’ victory
©Robbie Stephenson/JMP for Harlequins

On a cold Thursday night in West London, the Barbarians and Harlequins played out a 73-28 match in which 15  tries were scored.

 Scoring began in the opening exchanges, as young Harlequins wing Oscar Beard was sent over in the corner.Scott Scrafton’s converted effort would tie things up at the Twickenham Stoop, the competition fought closely in the opening half. 

To wrap the opening 40 minutes, Josh Bassett would hare down the left wing shortly after the visitors took the lead through Levi Aumua, while a second for Beard handed the hosts a narrow lead.

In order to give the BaaBaas a narrow lead at the break, Mike Brown would score against the team he represented so proudly for 16 years, the 37-year-old latching onto a chip into the night sky from All Black Damian McKenzie.

After half-time was really when the Barbarians lack of preparation began to shine through. Having had a new group of players arrive in London at the start of the week, Scott Robertson’s side struck first thanks to the powerful Abraham Papali’i.

From then on it was all Harlequins, with Bassett adding a second for the night before Cadan MURLEY got in on the action moments after his introduction to the game, the wing able to play by virtue of having been dropped from the England squad earlier this week by Eddie Jones.

Hayden Hyde’s length-of-the-field score continued to add gloss to the score line, as did Jack Kenningham’s shortly afterwards. Joe Marchant marked his first game at the Stoop since announcing he would be departing next summer with a try, high diving the fans behind the sticks as part of his celebration.

Shortly after Will Edwards weaved his way over was when the party really started. It began with a mesmeric score for Joe Marler, the club legend benefitting from Murley’s chase of the ball, prodding it through and latching onto it before finding Archie White, who duly passed into Marler in space. Bouncing Barbarians shirts in his wake, the loosehead prop would even convert the score to send West London wild.

After watching Marler add the extra two with ease, captain for the evening Alex Dombrandt clearly wanted in on the kicking action. Having had a surprisingly quiet night in such a loose encounter, the No.8 lined up to convert Murley’s second with the clock having passed 80. 

To say that the England international was close to getting the extras is putting it mildly. Having revved up the crowd, Dombrandt struck the ball cleanly and watched as it began to shape inside. But it went just wide. Heads in hands all round.

After the final whistle, players and coached are milling around the pitch.Seeking out family and friends or simply going to speak to the vocal crowd that made its way to West London for a midweek exhibition game.

Harlequins certainly delivered in spades. With a few trick plays, Dombrandt’s no-look kick over the onrushing Barbarians defence a real highlight, while Marler’s score and kicking from the tee definitely added to the occasion.

Tabai Matson looks almost stunned at the level of support his team received and after a chat with his former Bath wing Matt Banahan, the New Zealander speaks to TRU.

“It’s ridiculous, and it was good that we finished with a flourish,” he said. “There was some shenanigans at the end. As soon as Marler kicked the ball, I was thinking ‘oh Lordy, Lordy’ and I looked at the clock and there was 12 minutes to go. And it was going to go crazy.

“But it was good crazy. It was a pleasure playing the Barbarians, because this was a unique opportunity to be here on a Thursday night, playing a pretty famous club is pretty cool. Fantasy rugby.”

Even in defeat, Barbarians head coach Scott Robertson is smiling. After his team’s 35-31 win over the All Blacks XV at the weekend the 48-year-old’s squad saw 21 new arrivals, many of whom that have been left out of work as a result of Wasps and Worcester Warriors having folded.

It is a longer tour than the New Zealander was initially expecting, his original stint with the Barbarians due to have only been one game, however the need to help Premiership clubs make up lost revenue from lost home games quickly took over.

Involved with the side for their game on Sunday against Bath at the Recreation Ground before making way for Lee Blackett to take charge for the game against Northampton Saints, the Crusaders’ head coach has enjoyed the chance that this time in the northern hemisphere has brought.

“It’s a great opportunity, a great opportunity for the history of the BaaBaas,” he said. “That’s why putting 70 on us – 50-something to 20-something maybe, but 73 makes it difficult. But just the opportunity for us to engage, play some footy, have some good moments and give our guys a game.

“A lot of our guys haven’t played for six weeks, two months even, then a big rotation with 10 on the bench and three intercepts costs you. Once you get those, they get their tails up and well done Harlequins. For the majority of that we were pretty tough. We were happy. Maybe a couple of beers caught up on us.”