Centre of attention - England's Joe Marchant (C) scored two tries for Harlequins in a comeback win over Gloucester
London (AFP) - England centre Joe Marchant scored two tries as reigning champions Harlequins booked their place in the Premiership play-offs by staging yet another remarkable rally to beat Gloucester 28-24 at Twickenham on Saturday.
Gloucester led 24-7 at half-time. But Quins erased that deficit by scoring 21 unanswered points, with Marchant’s double topped off by Cadan Murley’s try 11 minutes from time.
Quins were 28-0 down in their play-off semi-final last year before defeating Bristol 43-36 and then edging out Exeter in a see-saw final at Twickenham to take the title.
Saturday’s match also took place at Twickenham, in front of a 47,000-strong crowd, after Quins moved the game from their nearby Stoop ground.
All Quins had to show for their first-half efforts were an Alex Dombrandt try converted by Marcus Smith, the first of four successful goal-kicks for the England fly-half.
Only the top four at the end of the regular season qualify for the title-deciding play-offs.
This defeat left Gloucester fifth – level on points with Northampton – and still in contention ahead of their final game of the regular season against Saracens on June 4.
Elsewhere, leaders Leicester secured a 19th win of the Premiership season with a 27-5 victory away to Newcastle.
Tries from Nemani Nadolo and Guy Porter, backed up by the boot of George Ford, ensured victory for the visitors before Ford’s fellow England international Freddie Steward scored late on.
Newcastle hooker George McGuigan did cross for the hosts, who remained 11th in the table.
Bath gave their fans something to cheer in a dismal campaign by climbing off the bottom after coming from 10 points behind early in the second half to win 27-24 at home to London Irish.
The Exiles had a fourth, bonus-point, try soon after the interval.
But a Will Muir try and two penalties by Orlando Bailey, who also kicked three conversions, saw Bath to only their fifth league win of the season.
Their match with Worcester on June 4 will decide who finishes bottom of the table, although neither side risks being demoted after league chiefs took the controversial decision to abandon relegation for both this season and next as part of a Covid recovery plan.