Harlequins 36-33 Castres: English champions stay unbeaten after nicking victory after the buzzer
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Hat-trick hero Alex Dombrandt stole a dramatic victory for Harlequins with the final play of a thrilling Champions Cup clash.
The England No.8 pounced with the clock three minutes into the red to break Castres hearts and maintain the Londoners’ unbeaten record in Europe.
“It was all about staying in the fight and we showed great resilience to do that,” said Dombrandt.
Quins looked to have blown it on a night when their defence was too often found wanting. They trailed 16-5 after the first quarter and were second best for much of the night.
But Dombrandt, whose try had won the reverse fixture in Castres, kept them in the contest with a try either side of half-time.
Without him hope would have been lost, despite Huw Jones and Viliami Taulani briefly putting the Londoners ahead in a dizzying contest.
Joe Marler didn’t help, foolishly stepping on the hand of opposition scrum-half Rory Kockott after the whistle had gone.
Marler was sent to the sin bin and from the very next play Kockott took his revenge, latching onto Filipo Nakosi’s sweeping blindside move to put his team ahead.
Any other club might have stressed but Quins have won every game in this competition without leading even one of them at the break.
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So it was that Dombrandt bagged his second and Quins fourth, three minutes after the restart, to clinch the bonus point.
And with the final whistle about to be blown the big man once again stepped up to spark delirious scenes in south west London.
Castres’ defeat capped a miserable day for French rugby which brought the threat of legal action to tournament bosses.
Holders Toulouse had their game today against Cardiff cancelled because of Covid cases within their camp but were livid that Cardiff were awarded a 28-0 walkover – a decision which could yet see them eliminated.
QUINS – Tries: Dombrandt 3, Jones, Taulani. Cons: Allan 3, Smith. Pen: Allan.
CASTRES – Tries: Barlot, Zeghdar, Kockott, Nakosi, Cocagi. Con: Botica. Pens: Botica 2.