NEC Harlequins unbeaten run in the Zurich A League came to an end at Aldershot last night (Monday 24th January), as London Wasps maintained their 100% record in the competition so far this season by claiming a victory by 41-25 in an entertaining contest.
It was the home side who put the first points on the board after just four minutes. From a lineout close to the Wasps line, prop forward Alex Rogers was driven over in the right hand corner for a try that fly half Luke Cousins converted from the touchline.
However, it was the visitors who dominated play throughout much of the first half and they were on level terms four minutes later. Fly half Daniel Cipriani broke free down the blindside and ran in Wasps opening try of the night unopposed, with winger Edd Thrower adding the conversion to make the score 7-7.
Centre Tim Foster powered his way over from a five metre scrum as the game entered the second quarter, a try that Thrower converted, and when prop Henry Nwume reached out to score in the left hand corner 11 minutes before the break, it put Wasps into a 12-point lead (19-7). Cousins cut the deficit by converting a penalty two minutes later that meant Quins trailed 10-19 at half-time.
Five minutes after the restart and Quins put themselves right back in the game, as Joe Mbu took an inside ball from Cousins and thundered his way through a number of defenders to touchdown under the posts. Remarkably, Cousins had his conversion attempt charged down but Quins were now only four points behind (15-19).
Back came Wasps and Thrower made the most of an overlap created down the right flank to touchdown in the corner for a score that he also converted. Cousins kicked his second penalty of the night on 53 minutes to make the score 18-26, but Wasps struck a crucial blow just five minutes later.
Winger Michael Roberts intercepted a Quins attack just outside of the home sides twenty-two and had a simple run-in under the posts. Thrower added the two extra points on offer to put the visitors into a 15-point advantage (18-33).
Quins response was immediate as Mbu was released down the left flank and he wasn't going to be stopped from 20 metres out. Cousins made no mistake with the conversion, which once again meant that just eight points separated the two sides (25-33) with the final quarter left to play.
The home side continued to threaten the Wasps line, and both replacement Steve Jay and Henry Barratt had chances to score. Neither was taken and with 80 minutes up on the clock, Thrower converted a penalty after Quins were penalised for being offside.
With the game deep in injury time, lock forward George Skivington charged down a clearance kick from Jay before kicking ahead and winning the race to the loose ball over the Quins try line. Thrower missed the conversion and this was immediately followed by the final whistle.
Final score, 25-41.
NEC Harlequins XV: 15. Charlie Amesbury, 14. Henry Barratt, 13. Tosh Masson, 12. Andy Reay, 11. Joe Mbu, 10. Luke Cousins, 9. Duncan James, 1. Tom Muggridge, 2. Cameron Dott, 3. Alex Rogers, 4. Alex Ayling, 5. Jim Evans, 6. Tom Guest, 7. Chris Cracknell, 8. Kai Horstmann
Replacements: 16. Matt Sermon, 17. Mark Abel, 18. James Inglis, 19. Andrew Hodgkins, 20. Steven Jay, 21. Damu, 22. Mike Brown
London Wasps XV: 15. Rob Laird, 14. Michael Roberts, 13. Tim Foster, 12. Matt Priscott, 11. Edd Thrower, 10. Daniel Cipriani, 9. Warren Fury, 1. Alistair McKenzie, 2. Ben Gotting, 3. Henry Nwume, 4. Rob Cain, 5. George Skivington, 6. John-Paul Filler, 7. Gareth Chamberlain, 8. John Hart
Replacements: 16. Rowan Fuller, 17. Jonny Barrett, 18. Trevor Leota, 19. James Honeyben, 20. Liam Brown, 21. Ed Hoadley, 22. Nick Defty
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.