Harlequins 40-5 Exeter: Matson backs Marcus Smith for England recall

Harlequins 40-5 Exeter: Tabai Matson backs Marcus Smith to regain his England spot after producing a man-of-the-match performance in dominant win at Twickenham

  • Marcus Smith produced exemplary performance as Harlequins defeated Exeter
  • 24-year-old was left out of England’s Six Nations side for the clash with France
  • Quins coach Tabai Matson backed his star man to earn an England recall 

Tabai Matson backed Marcus Smith to regain his England place after the fly-half breathed fresh life into Harlequins’ play-off bid.

Smith shrugged off his huge disappointment at being dumped by Steve Borthwick for the forthcoming Six Nations clash with France to inspire his club to a crushing bonus-point victory over Chiefs.

The 24-year-old fly-half proved a huge point to Borthwick who would have been impressed as he sat looking on at Twickenham Stadium.

Smith was at his brilliant best, kicking, passing and running the show and having a hand in most of the six tries Quins scored in this rout.

Smith, who kicked ten points and named Man of the Match, denied after the game he deliberately went out to make a statement to England’s head coach who has slowly elbowed him out of his squad – firstly dropping him to the bench and then out completely for France. He said: ‘That was not in the forefront of my mind. I’ve only ever wanted to go out there and enjoy my rugby.

Marcus Smith responded to being dropped by England by producing a man-of-the-match performance as Harlequins defeated Exeter

‘It was special to be back amongst my mates who I love playing with. There’s not better place to play rugby than Twickenham in front of a big crowd. It was an unbelievable atmosphere.’

Matson insisted: ‘He can’t do any more to get back in the England mix…and I think he will be back there soon. To slot back into our system so smoothly and outstandingly shows what a rare talent he is.

‘He orchestrates a lot of our attacks. He wanted to come back here and get 80 minutes under his belt. He’s here to get game time and he’s sharp. His decision making and getting time on the ball is a rarity.

The 24-year-old kicked ten points after being left of England’s Six Nations clash with France

Quins coach Tabai Matson(left) insisted Smith’s performance in the win warranted an England recall from Steve Borthwick(right)

‘I spoke to Steve (Borthwick) on Sunday and he wanted Marcus to come back here to us and boss the game.

‘The best thing he could have done was to play as best he could. Steve is really clear on how they want to win Tests but Marcus has put his best foot forward and showed there is another way.’

Josh Bassett was sin-binned early on for a deliberate knock on but Quins never looked back after that. Cadan Murley, Bassett and Sam Riley tries put Quins 26-0 ahead at the break. Hooker Jack Innard struck Chiefs only blow with a try shortly into the second half but a brace from Joe Marchant and one more from Stephan Lewies saw the hosts crush their rivals in front of 54000 fans.

Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher admitted: ‘It’s a humbling result and we have no complaints about the score.,..only that we should have got a lot more points ourselves. We had chances and were camped on their line quite a bit but just could not cross their line to make it pay. Marcus Smith is clearly a quality operator and performed superbly tonight.’

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