The Men in the Famous Quarters started at a rate of knots, scoring the first try of the game within the first five minutes.
In-form centre Luke Northmore reacted quickly, kicking a loose ball forward after it was ripped out a tackle, allowing the Englishman to slide over to open the day’s scoring. England international Marcus Smith converted to put Quins seven points in front.
It was nearly try-time once again for Quins just minutes later, but a slight knock-on from Tyrone Green due to a slippery ball took play back to the Chiefs 22.
The visitors started to grow into the game after half an hour and managed to make the pressure on the Harlequins defence count. Exeter worked their way right to left across the pitch, sending centre Henry Slade over in the left corner for the Chiefs’ opening score. Joe Simmonds added the two to make it even with five minutes left to play in the first-half.
On the brink of half-time Chiefs found themselves down to 14 men. Loosehead prop Alec Hepburn was shown a red card for a tip tackle on his opposite man, Joe Marler.
Half-time Harlequins 7 – 7 Exeter Chiefs 7
Despite having the one player advantage and a number of scoring opportunities deep inside the Exeter half, the side from South West London struggled to break the scoreboard deadlock.
The Devon-based side managed to trundle their way up the pitch after a couple of penalties from Harlequins. After each side had their own shot at a lineout deep in Harlequins’ territory as possession traded hands, Exeter were the side to come up with a driving maul score against the odds. Simmonds’ conversion sailed right of the posts, but the Chiefs led by five points with less than a quarter of an hour to play.
Despite being behind in the game, it would be Harlequins who had the final say. Marcus Smith spotted space out wide and kicked across the field into the hands of massive number twelve Andre Esterhuizen, who managed to dot down in the corner bring the scores level. Young fly-half Smith held his nerve and slotted the conversion to put Quins two points in front.
Esterhuizen, awarded his third consecutive Player of the Match award, turned the ball over in a Chiefs ruck and Alex Dombrandt kicked the ball out of play to secure a huge win for Quins.
Final score: Harlequins 14 – 12 Exeter Chiefs
Next match: Cardiff Rugby vs Harlequins. Friday January 14. 20:00 kick-off.