sport news Harlequins 27-41 Bath: Quins play-off dreams end in front of 2,700 fans at the ...

Typical sport – just when you want to be uplifted it ruins your day.

There was a crackle and a joy to English rugby's first trial event for fans in grounds, as Harlequins season-ticket holders finally had the chance to watch their side in the flesh.

But most of the 2,700 in, while enjoying the novelty, would have trudged home £50 lighter and somewhat depressed again after their side were well beaten and now will not make the Premiership playoffs.

Harlequins suffered 27-41 loss to Bath as play-off dream ends in front of their fans for first time

Harlequins suffered 27-41 loss to Bath as play-off dream ends in front of their fans for first time

Bath were excellent with tries from Ruaridh McConnochie, Elliott Stooke and Lewis Boyce

Bath were excellent with tries from Ruaridh McConnochie, Elliott Stooke and Lewis Boyce

By contrast if any Bath fans did manage to sneak in they would have seen their new ferocious outfit that has propelled themselves up the table to within striking distance of their first playoff appearance for five years.

The visitors were excellent, scored through Ruaridh McConnochie, twice, Elliott Stooke and Lewis Boyce as Rhys Priestland kicked 21 points, and look finally to have released themselves from the shackles of annual mediocrity.

Priestland said: 'The fact they had a crowd in didn't make a difference – it was all about how we could bring energy ourselves.'

Stuart Hooper, the Bath boss, sees his side in fifth with four to go and was delighted.

2,700 Harlequins season-ticket holders finally had the chance to watch their side at the Stoop

2,700 Harlequins season-ticket holders finally had the chance to watch their side at the Stoop

'The boys were outstanding today,' he said.

'There is such a massive swing on team selection at the moment it's tough to predict. We've got to win as many as we can.'

And he was keen to see more games like this.

'It's imperative we get them back in as soon as possible,' he added.

'I thought it was a huge step forward for the sport. It felt exciting to see, hear and speak to supporters. As soon as we can get that done safely round the country let's get it done as it's definitely been missed.'

Paul Gustard was distraught at the result. 'I'm sad for the board, the club, the fans, but ultimately the players after that performance.

'We've fallen further behind and the top four are pulling away.'

As an occasion all felt so wonderfully normal.

Ruaridh McConnochie scored two tries for the visitors as Bath boss labelled them 'outstanding'

Ruaridh McConnochie scored two tries for the visitors as Bath boss labelled them 'outstanding'

Harlequins members queued up outside for their temperature checks before and eventually 3,500 – including broadcasters, caterers and media – made it in for the first English rugby event with fans since March.

Perhaps because we have all become accustomed to the dreadful sounds of silence, but these merry few made it seem louder and busier than ever before.

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There was the usual unnecessary roaring over the microphone, and the dialled up music but for now it was less annoying and a more heart-warming regression to normality.

A different normality of course. Supporters sat in all four stands a few seats apart,

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