Joe Cokanasiga Double Knocks Over Harlequins

Joe Cokanasiga was pushing to be called up by England in the Six Nations when he diverted attention away from the action for tenth place and Bath topped the table.

Finn Russell won his duel with Marcus Smith on points, whose failed conversion cost his team a lost extra point after on, but Cokanasiga was the main event.

The winger, 6ft 4in and 17 and a half stone, scored two tries that showed his pace and power and advocated for his reinstatement at test level after being snubbed for the World Cup.

If Bath are a rejuvenated team, then Cokanasiga is a player reborn, having been dropped by England coach Steve Borthwick at the start of the World Cup preparations. The 26-year-old was playing a preparation match for the World Cup before being eliminated, but he has achieved it with a big step and looks like a real contender for the Six Nations.

Johann van Graan, the Bath head coach, revealed that Borthwick has been keeping an eye on his man, who has had six tries in his last four matches, and said there are more to come.

“He came back very disappointed not to go to the World Cup after sitting out after this Wales test, and Steve and the England team communicated really well about what he needed to work on.

“He has improved a lot in the air and I keep telling him he is the best winger I have ever coached.

“I was lucky enough to coach some very good and fast wingers, but he can use his size very well and he used it tonight. In one of the attempts, he ran over three boys to finish.”

Russell and Smith showed off their skills and even gave the crowd a pushing and shoving match just before Bath’s Miles Reid scored the extra point try.

Quins snared a try from wing James Chisholm in stoppage time but Smith, who had to convert from the left of the posts to miss a bonus point, nailed it straight at the post.

“They both had great moments in the game,” Harlequins director of rugby Billy Millard said. “Marcus is a wrestler, a competitor and he covers a lot of ground and he had to do that.”

Russell was the first of the number 10s to open his bag of tricks with two minutes on the clock when he took wing Louis Lynagh out of position from Quin with a delayed pass, sending Ollie Lawrence free. The center then fed Cokanasiga, who ran past.

It was a matter of everything you can do, I can do it better for Smith, who produced an impressive solo score two minutes after. He lost the defence with a dummy and a side step from a lineout to a waltz and it was the same at 5-5 as both aerial halves missed their conversions.

Bath were denied a try after wing Will Muir came out of his own half, Ben Spencer juggled the ball and held on to it before being brought down. Centre Max Ojomoh went over, but the try was blocked due to a tackle that had been caused by Harlequin scrum-half Danny Care lunging at Spencer from an offside position. Care received a yellow card but Bath only received a penalty from Luke Pearce.

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