NEC Harlequins future in the Zurich Premiership is very much in jeopardy following a 21-10 defeat at Leeds Tykes; a result that puts Quins at the bottom of the league table with one game to go. South African international Andre Snyman scored two of the home sides three tries, with the margin of defeat denying Quins a crucial bonus point.
In a very tense opening to the match, both sides were unable to create any clear cut scoring opportunities. Gavin Duffy had the chance to release Ugo Monye but his pass found touch as opposed to the Quins winger, while an excellent tackle from Leeds fly half Gordon Ross prevented Will Greenwood from making the most of his break downfield. At the same time, some excellent defence from the visitors deep inside their own twenty-two prevented Leeds from opening the scoring.
With 27 minutes on the clock, the deadlock was finally broken as Jeremy Staunton converted a penalty to put Quins three points in front. However, persistent pressure from Leeds followed and four minutes from half-time, Snyman broke through a gap in the Quins defence and was able to power his way through Duffy to score in the corner. Ross slotted the conversion from wide out to put Leeds 7-3 ahead at the interval.
Two minutes after the restart and Quins retook the lead. Staunton perfectly timed his interception of a cut out pass from Ross and sprinted to the posts unopposed from just over halfway. The Quins fly half then made no mistake with the simple conversion to restore the visitors three-point advantage. Leeds fought back, though Ross missed the chance to level the score on 50 minutes as his penalty attempt drifted wide of the target.
Six minutes into the final quarter and the home side were back in front, thanks to a cracking try scored from a move that started deep in their own half. After securing a turnover of possession, Leeds centre's Phil Christopher and Chris Bell, along with full back Diego Albanese all made ground before the ball went to winger Tom Biggs. Biggs was held-up short of the line but his clever inside pass allowed Christophers to score from close range for a try that Ross converted.
Eight minutes from time and Snyman settled the outcome with his second try of the night. Scrum half Alan Dickens broke free from a scrum deep inside Quins twenty-two before releasing Snyman, who had an unopposed run to the line. Ross once again added the conversion to the Leeds tally, which put the home side two scores in front.
Quins were forced to attack from deep in the time that remained in a desperate attempt to score the try they needed to secure a bonus point. However, there was no way through the Leeds defence and the final whistle signaled the end of a very disappointing evening 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.