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Chris Robshaw's return to the scene of England's World Cup disaster was quickly forgotten amid a chaotic but brilliant Aviva Premiership clash that produced another RBS 6 Nations injury doubt in Jonny May.
Gloucester wing May limped off in the 42nd minute with a left hamstring problem incurred while taking a kick and he spent the rest of the afternoon on the bench with the damaged muscle strapped with ice.
From his vantage point on the sidelines, one of England's most dangerous players this year watched as Harlequins drew 39-39 in a roller-coaster at Twickenham that produced bonus points for both sides.
The 2012 Premiership champions had a last-gasp chance to win the match with a drop-goal, but Danny Care's pass to Nick Evans was poor and the former New Zealand fly-half's kick drifted wide.
It was a near touchline conversion from Evans that drew Quins level in the 77th minute after the Kiwi playmaker had set up a vital try for Ross Chisholm with a clever miss pass.
Of the 10 tries scored before the 70,718 crowd, the best belonged to Gloucester full-back Rob Cook who beat four defenders and carried three more over the line after returning Mike Brown's clearance.
It was Robshaw's first appearance at Twickenham since the World Cup-ending defeat by Australia on October 3 and he played his part in a logic-defying fixture that justifiably finished in stalemate.
Gloucester's Matt Kvesic was superb and with this performance of a genuine seven may have edged clear in England's pecking order at openside
The visitors waited several minutes as Quins made their grand entrance for 'Big Game 8', but they still made the stronger start with Brown preventing a certain try for Billy Twelvetrees.
The whitewash was breached in the seventh minute, however, when Charlie Sharples ripped the ball loose from Brown in mid-air and a phase later lock Jeremy Thrush grubbered before beating Jack Clifford to touching down.
Clifford broke a tackle and raced into space and soon after Quins were over, Evans spotting an overlap and feeding Tim Visser who gave Marland Yarde the scoring pass.
Another turnover led to Gloucester's second try with Kvesic tackling Visser and then poaching the ball, enabling Twelvetrees to release James Hook for an unopposed 40-metre run to the line.
Care demonstrated to referee Wayne Barnes, claiming Kvesic has been offside for the steal, and the England scrum-half was clearly riled when play restarted.
He channelled his frustration into a strong early dart and several phases later - including one direct run from Jamie Roberts - he finished the move by wriggling over the whitewash.
May limped off but Gloucester barely noticed as they picked off their third turnover try.
Centre George Lowe ran clear and Brown recycled, but Dave Ward's pass to Clifford was poor and Henry Trinder intercepted before completing an 80-metre run to the line.
Two tries in two minutes catapulted Quins into the lead for the first time, half-backs Evans and Care combining for the first which ended with Nick Easter forcing his way over.
The second was a brilliant move that started deep inside their own half when Roberts shrugged off a tackle by Thrush, supplied Brown before replacement wing Chisholm arrived to race home on the outside.
Yet again Gloucester plundered a turnover try, on this occasion Trinder grabbing Care's pass. The outside centre hobbled over for the last 10 yards, having sustained what seemed to be a hamstring injury.
A penalty by Greig Laidlaw nudge the visitors back in front before Cook plundered his wonder-try, but Chisholm crossed for his second to set up the grand stand finish.
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