Premiership: Marcus Smith stars as Harlequins run riot against Exeter Chiefs in Big Game 14
Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith sent a message to England head coach Steve Borthwick as he starred in a 40-5 win over Exeter at Twickenham.
Smith, who was released from the Red Rose squad in order to gain match action, has been something of a spectator in the Six Nations so far in 2023.
But he put in the ideal statement performance for Harlequins on Saturday as he shone alongside Danny Care as the hosts scored six tries in the win.
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Cadan Murley, Josh Bassett, Sam Riley, Joe Marchant (2) and Stephan Lewies claimed Quins’ scores, while Smith converted five of those on the day.
For Exeter, their only scorer was Jack Innard in a disappointing effort from Rob Baxter’s team, who are down in seventh in the Premiership table.
The victory sees Quins halt a recent dip in form that has seen them defeated five consecutive times in the league and climb from ninth place to fourth.
Quins were on the back foot early, with Bassett punished for a deliberate knock-on, but they got the first score when an excellent Smith dink over the defensive line bounced perfectly for Andre Esterhuizen, who coolly passed inside to put the try line at the mercy of the supporting Murley.
Following Harvey Skinner’s yellow card for head contact with the carrying James Chisholm, Quins advantageously got over the whitewash as Bassett made amends for his early mistake with a swift backs move that fooled Olly Woodburn into shooting out of his line and gifting the former Wasps man a clear run in from inside the Exeter 22.
Care was in top form at Twickenham
Quins kept their stride as talisman Care left Twickenham speechless with an outrageous blind pass as the touchline loomed, gifting Riley the simple job of touching the ball down.
Exeter’s floodgates remained open with Skinner still in the bin, as the Quins back line overwhelmed the visitors out wide before Nick David, Bassett, and Smith swapped passes to allow Marchant to dot down for their bonus-point try.
Despite heading into the changing rooms at half-time without any points on the board, Chiefs were faster out of the blocks following the interval as Innard steered his driving maul to the line for the score.
However, the hosts soon displayed their routine flair, with a cheeky short-range Care grubber kick touched down by Marchant.
Quins skipper Lewies was next on the scoresheet, tearing away from the driving maul to power over from short range for the final try of the game.
However, the headlines will of course, be about Smith as he was later named player of the match, which will delight the fly-half as he put in the ideal performance that could cause Borthwick to rethink his selection for their upcoming Six Nations game against France.
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