Niall Woods was within inches of giving NEC Harlequins victory over Dax, which would have ensured their place in the European Shield quarter-finals, with a late conversion attempt after Garrick Morgan went in for a try in stoppage time at the end of the game. It would have been a fairy-tale beginning to Woods Quins career if his kick had been the winner, as it was his blinding run that led to Morgan's try.
Paul Burke gave Quins a fourth minute lead with a penalty but then broke his arm in an accidental collision in midfield midway through the first half. The lead was not to last long, as Dax proved to be a more mobile side than they had demonstrated at the Stoop. Fabrice Duberger, receiving a pass from Pascal Giordani, ran in to score a try that Sebastian Fauque converted. Dax continued to threaten and with Quins in similar adventurous mood the match was unfolding into a brilliant contest.
Fauque kicked Dax further in front with two penalties and at 13-3 four minutes before the break Quins were looking in a forlorn state. But a rare error from the home side was pounced upon by Will Greenwood a few minutes later. The England centre off-loaded to fellow centre Nick Greenstock, who streaked away to touch down under the posts. Jennings conversion cut the deficit to three points. There was still time for Dax full back Julien Laharrague to score with a left footed drop goal and give the home side a 16-10 half-time lead.
A blistering opening spell in the second period saw Quins regain the lead as Greenstock charged through the Dax midfield. He returned the earlier compliment to his partner Greenwood, who scored under the posts and gave Jennings an easy conversion to put Quins one point in front.
The home side hit back with an outstanding try from right wing Mathieu Dourthe, who kicked ahead and outpaced the Quins cover to put his side back in front. Fauque converted and the visitors found themselves six points behind.
In between all this, Jennings missed two penalty attempts, former Saracens prop Roberto Grau was sin-binned for punching at a ruck and Niall Woods replaced Jennings. It was then the turn of Keith Wood to be sent to the sin-bin, but despite being reduced to fourteen men Quins hit back in a thrilling finale.
Woods made an instant impact and found the space to charge down the line. Although he did not have the gas to run in himself, Ryan O'Neill was in support to receive the ball and feed Garrick Morgan who scored. Woods lined up the conversion attempt but did not add sufficient swing to take into account the changing wind and despite a further three minutes of stoppage time the visitors could not find another score to win them the game.
Despite the defeat, victories over Perigueux and Ebbw Vale in their final two pool games will see Quins qualify to the quarter-finals.
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.