NEC Harlequins saw their European hopes left balancing on a knife-edge after Benetton Treviso snatched victory at the Stoop.
Quins kept the Italians on the back foot for much of the first-half, content to take the penalties Treviso seemed happy to concede. NEC Harlequins on the other hand looked sure of themselves in the opening period, with both Rob Liley and Gareth Rees hoofing the ball into the Italian 22. Rees is the bargain buy of the season and Quins know they have found themselves a potential match-winning kicker.
It was the boot of the Canadian which opened the scoring in the third minute, before Jaques Benade drew the visitors level on five minutes. But then Quins began to make their presence felt with a Liley drop goal and two more Rees penalties creating a nine-point buffer. Benade missed a drop goal and a penalty and on half-time Quins looked to have put the game beyond the Italians when Garrick Morgan went over in the corner to take the score to 19-3.
But Quins simply imploded and Treviso leapt at the opportunity.
On 56 minutes, Corrado Pilat took over the kicking for Treviso and landed a penalty to spark a Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game's over. I'm outta here. Quins collapse. Benade then collected the easiest of interceptions from Will Carling to score under the posts and Treviso had their tails up.
A second penalty from Pilat reduced the deficit to three points and a third levelled the scores, with seven minutes left. Benade then dropped a goal from the edge of the 22 to take Teviso into a crucial lead. Try as they may after that, including a forty metre drop goal attempt from Rees, Quins could not get through and the Italians achieved a memorable victory.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.