NEC Harlequins Heineken Cup campaign ended the way it started; with a defeat against Munster. In front of the biggest crowd (33,883) for a pool fixture in the history of the tournament, the visitors came away with a victory by 18-10; a result that secured them top spot in pool four and a place in the quarterfinals.
It was Quins who opened the scoring soon after the kick-off, as Andy Dunne converted a penalty after Munster were penalised at a scrum five metres from their own line, but the visitors hit back and scored the first try of the match on eight minutes. Winger Shaun Payne made a break deep into Quins twenty-two and after centre Rob Henderson was held-up short of the line, the ball went out to the right and with the overlap created Anthony Horgan finished off the move.
Paul Burke added the two extra points from the conversion to put Munster into a 7-3 lead, though Dunne had the chance to close the deficit straight from the restart. Remarkably, the Quins fly half missed a penalty from in front of the posts and then missed a more difficult kick out on the left moments later.
Quins continued to ask questions of the Munster defence and a fine break from Gavin Duffy should have ended with a try after 14 minutes. The full back opted not to pass to Simon Keogh outside him and Duffy was eventually bundled into touch by his opposite number Christian Cullen.
However, 12 minutes before half-time and Quins did score their only try of the match. With Munster on the attack inside the Quins twenty-two, flanker Denis Leamy's speculative long-pass was intercepted by Ugo Monye. The winger held off an attempted challenge and then sprinted clear to touchdown under the posts unopposed. Dunne made no mistake with the conversion to put Quins three points ahead (10-7).
Burke then missed a penalty and only an excellent try saving tackle from Keogh on Cullen kept Quins in front. However, in first half injury time Munster retook the lead by scoring the final try of the afternoon. Ace Tiatia was sin-binned for a professional foul and the Quins defence couldn't hold out whilst being a man down, as Leamy burrowed his way over from close range in the left hand corner. Burke missed the conversion from the touchline but Munster had a two-point lead at the break (12-10).
The second half offered few clear cut scoring opportunities for both sides, but it was Burke who put the first points on the board ten minutes after half-time by converting a penalty to make the score 15-10. Five minutes into the final quarter and the visitors gave themselves a two-score lead, as Burke once again punished Quins lack of discipline and kicked his second penalty of the half that the completed the scoring in the match (18-10).
Monye was put clear by replacement Tom Williams five minutes from the end, but the winger was denied a second try by an excellent tackle from Cullen and despite dominating territory in the closing stages, Quins failed to add to their first half tally.
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.