On Saturday (19th April 2003), NEC Harlequins Under 21's lost their six match unbeaten record with a narrow 24-18 defeat at Welford Road, against the Under 21 league leaders Leicester Tigers. Quins went into this fixture boosted by the inclusion of First XV squad members Chris Bell and Ugo Monye in the team.
Leicester took the initiative from the start and soon took an early lead with a penalty from ex-Quin Luke Sayer. Adrian Jarvis equalised in similar fashion but Quins soon gave away another penalty from the restart to allow Leicester to move into a 6-3 lead.
The Quins forwards then started to take control and put the Leicester pack under serious pressure. With the Leicester hooker in the sin-bin, Quins gained a five-metre scrum, where Kai Horstman powered over the line for the opening try of the game. However, in the space of four minutes the game turned against Quins with Tom Parker sent to the sin-bin, closely followed by Bell on the stroke of half-time.
Leicester took full advantage of having two extra men on the pitch and scored two tries in the first ten minutes of the second half. During this period, Quins went from being 8-6 ahead, to 21-8 behind.
Back to full strength, Quins started to put pressure on the home side with Jarvis slotting another penalty to reduce Leicester's advantage. From the restart tempers flared in this closely contested match, with both packs getting involved in a fight. The referee's decision was to send Quins lock Ben Cread to the sin-bin, once again leaving the visitors a man down. Leicester kicked the resulting penalty to take their lead to 24-11.
Despite only playing with 14 men, Quins continued to ask questions of the Leicester defence and this led to Andy Reay scoring a good try, which Jarvis converted. However, time ran out for the visitors, leaving them to reflect on what might have been.
This was a committed and spirited performance that with better discipline would have resulted in a memorable victory. Quins front five dominated the Leicester pack, which contained many Under 21 internationals.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.