Despite trailing 16-11 at half-time against Plymouth Albion, NEC Harlequins recorded another victory in National Division One; coming away with the four points thanks to a 23-16 win at Brickfields Recreation Ground. Four second half penalties from Andrew Mehrtens helped Quins to overturn the deficit and set-up the victory, with the home side unable to add to their first half tally.
Indeed, two penalties from Mehrtens put the visitors into a 6-0 lead inside the opening ten minutes, before the home side hit back by scoring 11 unanswered points. With 16 minutes on the clock, an excellent move from the Plymouth back division ended with winger Nat Saumi touching down in the left hand corner.
Saumi missed the conversion from wide out, but further pressure from the home side resulted in the winger converting two penalties in the space of six minutes to put Plymouth into an 11-6 lead. Quins responded with their only try of the afternoon nine minutes before half-time.
Jordan Turner-Hall made the break that took play into the Plymouth twenty-two and after Tani Fuga drove into the heart of the home sides defence, Nick Easter bundled his way over for the five points. Mehrtens missed the conversion close to the left hand touchline, but the visitors were back on level terms (11-11).
Quins went on the offensive from the restart, but when Andre Vos lost the ball it allowed Plymouth full back Luke Arscott to break away and kick possession deep into the visitors twenty-two. Simon Keogh was first to win the race to the loose ball, but was forced to concede a scrum five metres from the Quins line.
At the set-piece, Plymouth set-up the rolling maul that resulted in number eight Alfie Tooala being driven over for the try. A second conversion miss from Saumi meant the home side had a five-point advantage at the halfway stage (16-11).
Mehrtens cut the deficit to two points with his third penalty of the afternoon soon after the restart and then put the visitors back in front by a single point when the home side were penalised at a scrum deep inside their own half. Quins continued to dominate possession and territory, but were unable to breakdown a dogged Plymouth defence.
Two minutes before the start of the final quarter and Mehrtens put further daylight between the two sides on the scoreboard with another penalty. Vos, Mike Brown and George Harder all went close to claiming Quins second try of the afternoon, but it was Mehrtens who completed the scoring in the match with his sixth penalty seven minutes from time.
The sin-binning of Easter presented Plymouth with an opportunity of coming away with the draw, as the resulting penalty was kicked into touch deep in the Quins twenty-two. However, the visitors defence held firm at the lineout and with Plymouth penalised for holding onto the ball in the tackle, Mehrtens cleared the danger.
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.