NEC Harlequins recorded their most emphatic victory of the season to date in this 25-3 defeat of Dax. Both sides entered the game with 100% records in the Shield, so a win for Quins was vital to their qualification hopes for the quarter finals. By dominating possession and territory throughout, it was disappointing that Quins didn't make the most out of the chances they created. On a positive note, Quins reduced Dax to just a single penalty, despite periods of sustained pressure from the French side.
Straight from the kick-off, Quins invaded the Dax half with Keith Wood, Roy Winters and Pat Sanderson all making ground. Paul Burke had the opportunity to open the scoring in the opening minute but the fly-half, back from injury and making his first appearance in the Shield, pulled his penalty attempt wide of the posts.
For all their efforts in the opening quarter, Quins could not make the necessary breakthrough. Burke again failed with a penalty attempt, though he made amends after 22 minutes. A break from Daren O'Leary led to Wood being held up just short of the line but with Dax penalised for not rolling away, Burke made it third time lucky from in front of the post's.
Three minutes later and Quins doubled their advantage. When an overlap opportunity went begging following a clean break from Wood, an offside decision allowed Burke to make it 6-0. After 28 minutes, Dax found themselves in Quins territory for the first time. A break from full-back Julien Larharrgue led to backs and forwards combining in a flowing attack. It was Quins who were now offside and Sebastian Faugue put Dax on the scoreboard. A third penalty from Burke restored Quins lead to six points at half-time.
Like at the start of the match, Burke was given a penalty opportunity straight from the re-start. He successfully converted and Quins stretched their lead to 12-3. A thunderous break from Wood, supported by Wilson, created another opening though the captain's scoring pass to O'Leary was intercepted. But with Dax offside yet again, Burke gave Quins a 12 point lead with 25 minutes remaining. On the hour mark, the fly-half made it 18-3 with his sixth and final penalty.
Some tough and committed defence then kept the visitors out, despite numerous rolling mauls and five-meter scrums. Any hopes Dax had of staging a late fightback evaporated when Laharrague knocked on whilst sliding for the line. With three minutes left, Quins wrapped up victory in style. Nick Greenstock brilliantly gathered a clearing kick and found support from Jamie Williams. Speeding down the left wing, the replacement had Will Greenwood on hand who ran in unopposed to score his eighth try of the season. Burke's conversion gave him a personal match tally of 20 points.
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.