NEC Harlequins six match winning run at the Stoop in the Zurich Premiership came to an emphatic end as they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Sharks by 45-0. England international Charlie Hodgson did the majority of the damage for the visitors, scoring an individual tally of 23 points in the match.
With just under two minutes on the clock it was Hodgson who put the Sharks on their way by converting the first of four penalties, after Quins were penalised for being offside at the maul. Winger Mark Cueto came close to scoring the opening try of the contest after nine minutes, but he knocked the ball on following a strong run down the right wing. However, the opening score did come seven minutes later.
Centre Graeme Bond made ground into the Quins twenty-two, before offloading a pass to lock forward Chris Jones, who broke clear of the Quins defence and held-off a challenge from Dan Luger to touchdown by the posts. Hodgson made no mistake in adding the two extra points on offer, giving the Sharks a ten-point advantage.
Cueto was then denied again thanks to a try saving tackle from Bruce Starr in the left hand corner, as the game entered the second quarter. Quins momentarily threatened the Sharks defence, with Rob Jewell making ground down the left flank, but a promising move came to an end when Tony Diprose threw a wild pass to Tani Fuga, which the hooker failed to take.
Eight minutes before half-time and the visitors stretched their lead to 13 points. Captain and scrum half Bryan Redpath put up a high ball that Matt Moore failed to gather, which resulted in the Sharks being awarded a scrum five metres from the Quins line. Bill Davison was then guilty of going over the top after the set-piece broke down and became a ruck, and Hodgson was once again on target with his kick at goal that proved to be the last meaningful action prior to the interval.
Seven minutes after the restart and Hodgson was called into action once again; kicking his third penalty of the afternoon. Paul Burke had the opportunity to put Quins first points on the board two minutes later but his penalty attempt, his only one in the match, drifted wide of the posts.
Bond then put the Sharks even further in front as he burst through the Quins midfield to score under the posts, which presented Hodgson with the simplest of conversions. The visitors fly half then put his side a further three points ahead by converting penalty number four, with Quins captain Andre Vos penalised for not rolling away after making a tackle. Even though the last quarter still had to be played, the game was all but over as a contest with the Sharks leading 26-0.
After 61 minutes, a fine break from Dan Harris took play up to the Quins twenty-two. Redpath was in support and his pass gave Cueto the space he needed to sprint clear down the right and to score in the corner, though Hodgson failed to convert from wide out.
With 16 minutes remaining, it was Hodgson who secured the Sharks try scoring bonus point as hooker Andy Titerrell gave him the space he needed to run in for another try down the right hand flank. The Sharks number ten added the conversion to make the score 38-0.
Quins rallied and came close to scoring a consolation try through Will Greenwood, but their problems continued when Ace Tiatia was sin binned for a dangerous challenge with six minutes left on the clock. The home sides dismal day was completed when Steve Hanley sprinted clear from halfway for the Sharks fifth try and replacement scrum half Nick Walshe converted from in front of the posts.
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.