Tabai Matson sings fly-half’s praises

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  • Tabai Matson
    New Zealand rugby union footballer and coach

After Marcus Smith’s late Covid withdrawal, the concern for Harlequins was surely that their attacking game would lack a little zip.

Enter Will Edwards, who delivered an exceptional display to help his side to a 41-27 win over Northampton at Twickenham on Monday.

Coach Tabai Matson was quick to praise the fly-half’s performance under difficult circumstances.


“Will was exceptional,” Matson said. “We didn’t have fly-half cover and people don’t realise how hard it is to step into the breach like that. He kicked his goals and got us around the park. He adjusted well.

“Marcus is good. He’s actually available (on Tuesday) and is back in the mix. These are strange times.

“We’re really fortunate to have an amazing medical team who mitigate as much of these strange times as possible.

“For the next couple of weeks, just getting a 23 to the start line is going to pay dividends in April.

“At this time of year if you can stop somebody getting a bonus point it all matters later on.”

Andre Esterhuizen was named man of the match for his bulldozing runs from inside centre, but England number eight Alex Dombrandt completed a hat-trick of tries to improve his chance of starting the Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 5.

“Every time Alex delivers like that it catches your eye,” Matson said. “He’s a loose forward and someone who finds his way to the try line, so that’s always eye-catching.

“But when you look deeper into the performance around the physicality, getting on to the ball and working hard to get into tackles, that complements an international player. Three tries – greedy guy!”

It was only in the final eight minutes that Quins pulled clear and Northampton were on course to secure a bonus point until Dombrandt completed his hat-trick with seconds to spare.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t get four or five points from that,” Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd said. “We made a couple of awful decisions at the end and paid the price. It’s disappointing.

“We weren’t accurate enough, gave away too many penalties and got on the wrong side of the referee and when you do that you pay the price. We gave them too many platforms to set themselves up to win the game.”

Marcus Smith and James Chisholm test positive for Covid

Harlequins duo Marcus Smith (fly-half) and James Chisholm (back-row) have both tested positive for coronavirus, the club have confirmed.

The duo returned a positive test for Covid-19 via a PCR test earlier this week and have been ruled out Monday’s ‘Big Game 13’ against Northampton Saints at Twickenham.

A Harlequins statement said: “Due to health and welfare regulations all players must observe a clear graded return to match intensity fitness following a positive Covid-19 result before returning to match action.

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