NEC Harlequins got off to a winning start in National Division One, scoring five tries in a 35-9 victory over the Pertemps Bees at Sharmans Cross Road. Wingers Ugo Monye and George Harder both scored twice, with Tom Williams claiming the other touchdown. Despite the scoreline, this was a less than convincing display from the visitors in a performance littered with unforced errors.
However, it was Quins who dominated throughout much of the first half and opened the scoring after eight minutes. Andrew Mehrtens made a break into the Bees twenty-two where Gavin Duffy gave Monye the scoring pass, allowing the winger to touchdown under the posts. Mehrtens made no mistake with the simple conversion to give the visitors a seven-point lead.
Quins doubled their advantage soon after and once again Mehrtens was in the thick of the action. From a scrum five-metres from the Bees line, the former New Zealand fly half presented Harder with an unopposed run to the posts with a clever reverse pass that left the home sides defence flat footed. Mehrtens again added the two extra points on offer from the conversion, but it would prove to be Quins final points of the half.
Bees fly half Tim Walsh missed a penalty attempt at the end of the first quarter, but made no mistake when presented with a second opportunity ten minutes before the interval that cut the deficit to 11-points at the halfway stage (3-14).
Indeed, it was the home side who had the better of the opening exchanges at the start of the second half and a drop goal from Walsh cut Quins lead by a further three points (6-14).
Quins then went back on the offensive and registered their third try of the afternoon shortly before the start of the final quarter. A patient build-up eventually led to Mehrtens firing out a pass to Williams, who eased through a huge hole in the Bees defence to score under the posts.
Mehrtens converted though a third penalty for the home side from replacement fly half Ryan Lamb kept the Bees in touch with 14 minutes left to play, but Monye's second try put the result beyond doubt.
Nick Easter made an excellent break downfield from the base of a scrum, which resulted in quick ball for the backs. Will Greenwood put in a cross-field kick that was gathered by Monye to score Quins fourth try and secure the bonus point. Another conversion from Mehrtens made the score 28-9 in the visitors favour with nine minutes remaining.
With the game in injury time, Harder completed the scoring having been released by Ian Vass down the right wing. After fending off a challenge from his opposite number, Harder comfortably rounded the full back to touchdown under the posts. Having replaced Mehrtens, Adrian Jarvis took over the kicking duties and added the final two-points to Quins tally.
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.