Harlequins produced their best performance of the season to topple unbeaten Exeter Chiefs in an enthralling end-to-end game at The Stoop.

Paul Gustard’s men produced a fine showing in defence in attack that has now surely set a bench-mark for the West London side.

A Nathan Earle brace and scores from James Chisolm and Joe Marchant gave the home side the points they deserved.

Matt Kvesic touched down for the visitors in the first half while an Ollie Devoto try and a late Ian Whitten score gave the visitors the losing bonus point.

End to End

The home side started on the front foot and made early pressure count. James Lang slotting for three points after eight minutes following a probing opening.

As expected however the visitors soon got in to their stride, leading from the front was captain Matt Kvesic who made drove over after a sustained amount of forward pressure after 15minutes. Joe Simmons hitting the upright trying to add the extras.

Exeter mounted phases of attack but the Quins defence stood firm, and better still pushed the Chiefs back which rallied the home support which had been subdued.

Quins then hit back, and deservedly so. Ball in hand the quarter colours worked their way to the 22 before a penalty was awarded. They opted to go for the corner, and a great decision it was.

James Chisolm broke the line to dot down to put the home side 8-5 to the good. Lang mirroring his opposite number hitting the uprights with the conversion.

As the half drew to a close the Quins’ tails were up. The period before the half was arguably the home side’s best ten minutes of their season, and they made it count. Earle crashing over after quick ball from the break down just before the half time whistle.

Exeter came out the traps flying second half and camped themselves in Quins 22. Three penalties later and hooker Ollie Yeandle found himself driven over in a trademark Chiefs way. Simmons this time bringing the game to within a point.

More of the Same

Similar to first half, Quins struck back almost immediately. That man Earle picking up a a superb grubber from Mike Brown to power his way over from the 22. Lang this time, copying his opposite number and converting to push the score to 20-12.

On the hour Exeter struck again in controversial fashion. Substitute Ollie Devoto showing the benefit of fresh legs as he powered his way over on the crash ball from a line-out. The home crowd were adamant the ball was held up over the line, referee Ian Tempest played the villain and awarded the points. On closer inspection the home crowd should feel aggrieved. 20-19 and the game was back in the balance.

Back came the Quins with pressure of their own. A penalty from Lang’s replacement Marcus Smith sent Gustard’s men further in front.

Their lead was extended as Joe Marchant got on the end of Danny Care’s through kick to push Quins two scores to the good and lead the home side to believe they were on their way to a huge scalp.

Nerves were tested when Smith threw an intercept pass that centre Whitten read and managed to creep over the line to make the last minute a nervous affair.

Quins saw the game out, just.

The result puts Quins fourth in the Gallagher Premiership and early season aims of a top six finish doesn’t seem as far-fetched as previously thought.