42 unanswered points in the second half ensured NEC Harlequins made it a hat-trick of victories at the start of their National Division One campaign, as they comprehensively defeated Newbury by 52-13 at the Stoop. However, it was not all plain sailing for the home side who trailed 10-13 at the break, though the visitors were unable to add to their tally after half-time.
Andrew Mehrtens, who finished the game with a personal tally of 13 points, opened the scoring with a penalty after just four minutes, but Newbury fly half Blair Feeney responded in similar fashion nine minutes later before putting his side into the lead by converting a second penalty at the end of the opening quarter.
The first try of the match followed soon after when Mehrtens opted to find touch ten metres from the Newbury line instead of going for the three points on offer when Quins were awarded a penalty. At the resulting lineout, Andre Vos and Simon Miall both went close before Alex Rogers burrowed over for the five points. Mehrtens added the conversion to put the home side into a 10-6 lead.
Quins looked like extending their advantage when Ugo Monye took play deep into the Newbury twenty-two. However, ex-Quin back row forward Chris Cracknell deliberately killed the ball at the ruck and was sent to the sin-bin by referee Geraint Ashton Jones. There was to be further frustration for the hosts as both Will Greenwood and Monye had tries disallowed; the first due to a forward pass and the second as Monye was judged to have a foot in touch before diving over in the corner.
To make matters worse, Newbury retook the lead in first half injury time. Another ex-Quin Isoa DamuDamu made a fine break downfield and into the heart of Quins twenty-two, before the ball eventually found its way to Cracknell who held off a couple of defenders to score. Feeney added the two extra points from the conversion to make the half-time score 13-10 to the visitors.
Six minutes after the restart and Quins opened their second half account, with Nick Easter powering his way over from a scrum five metres from the Newbury line. Mehrtens was on target with the conversion, as he was just four minutes later when man-of-the-match Ian Vass scored under the posts, following a break from Mel Deane.
Four minutes into the final quarter and Easter claimed his second try in a similar fashion to the first and another two points from Mehrtens put Quins into a commanding 31-13 lead. Quins continued to attack and were rewarded with three further tries in the last ten minutes.
On 74 minutes, a powerful drive from the pack created the platform and quick hands from the backs led to replacement Charlie Amesbury touching down in the left hand corner. Mehrtens converted before being replaced by Adrian Jarvis, who helped himself to two conversions in injury time as Simon Keogh and Deane both got on the score-sheet to complete a convincing victory for Quins.
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.