Tyrone Green scored a crucial try as Harlequins claimed a dramatic 36-33 Champions Cup victory over Cardiff on Friday.
Marcus Smith was the star of the show, setting up three tries, scoring one and booting a penalty with the last kick of the game to seal the win for Harlequins.
Quins qualified for the knockout rounds after the 22-year-old England flyhalf scored the last 12 points of the match to save the erratic English champions in a wild game in which both teams scored five tries.
“I don’t think we were at the races today,” Smith told British broadcaster BT Sport. “I thought we stuck in there and were very resilient.”
Harlequins took the lead when Smith’s chip set up Louis Lynagh for a try after six minutes.
Cardiff started the match without a point after fielding a cobbled-together side in the first two rounds because most of their regular squad was in quarantine following a disastrous trip to South Africa, quickly hit back.
Wing Owen Lane powered through a tackle to score after 11 minutes. Eight minutes later No 8 James Ratti forced his way over to give Cardiff the lead.
Quins dominated the scrums and were rewarded when Cardiff Dmitri Arhip prop was shown a yellow card.
Smith took advantage of the space with a crosskick that yielded a try for South African fullback Green.
After 48 minutes, Smith’s deft flick found Alex Dombrandt who sent Luke Northmore over.
After Dombrandt was shown a yellow card in the 53rd minute, Cardiff scored two tries in three minutes: by prop Dillon Lewis, who had replaced Arhip, and Lane to take a 14-point lead.
Danny Care gave Quins hope by squirming over for a try with 20 minutes to play. Smith converted.
Harlequins forced another yellow card as hooker Kirby Myhill paid the price for a series of Cardiff offences close to their own line.
Quins took a scrum. When the ball came out, Smith hitch-kicked, sidestepped and plunged over before kicking the conversion to level the scores.
As time expired, Cardiff, trying to run the ball out from their own half, gave away a penalty for holding on to the ball.
Smith converted to give his team victory.
“To be rewarded with a penalty in front of the sticks by the forwards was a massive relief,” Smith said.
Harlequins coach Tabai Matson had mixed feelings.
“Really positive because we got a win away from home,” he told BT Sport. “Also really disappointed with the performance.”
© Agence France-Presse