The debut performance of David Wilson helped NEC Harlequins claim an important victory. Both sides entered the game with only one victory from five matches, which could explain why this was such a disappointing affair packed with unforced errors. Trailing by four points at half-time, Quins scored three second half tries to see off the Bristol challenge.
The home side led after two minutes, Ben Gollings converting a penalty following good attacking play from Ryan O'Neill and Keith Wood. Steven Vile, the Bristol fly half, levelled the scores whilst Mark Mapletoft was being helped from the field with an ankle injury. Brendon Daniel replaced him. Gollings and Vile traded penalties in the space of 60 seconds, making the score 6-6 after 16 minutes.
Bristol then made the first breakthrough when Agustin Pichot's tap penalty caught Quins on the back foot. The supporting David Rees rounded Garrick Morgan and Dean Dewdney was on hand to cross for the try, which Vile converted. It could have been worse for Quins when second row Andrew Sheridan made a thundering break. O'Neill managed to pull him down and the defence held up the remaining attack. A third Gollings penalty on 32 minutes made the half-time score 9-13.
Quins made a great start to the second half. A Peter Richards break took play deep in to the Bristol half. Wilson found Daniel whose pass gave Garrick Morgan a run to the line. He rode the challenge of Spencer Brown and touched down in the corner. Another Gollings penalty stretched Quins lead to 17-13 after 55 minutes.
Further pressure led to the second try nine minutes later. Nick Burrows set up play and Jason Leonard was on hand at scrum half. His pass found Wood, who jumped through one tackle before racing to the line to score under the posts. Gollings converted and Quins had an 11 point lead.
Two minutes later and Quins were over again. Wilson stole possession from a Bristol attack and a break out materialised. O'Neill went darting down the wing before finding support from Paul Burke, who fed Rory Jenkins. Daniel came in to the midfield, took the pass from Jenkins, swerved and sprinted to the line unchallenged to complete a wonderful move. Gollings conversion put Quins 31-13 ahead.
A late rally from Bristol gave them a bonus point as replacement Leigh Davies and Vile both crossed for tries, with the latter successfully converting one. This made the score 31-25, but Bristol ran out of time to threaten the Quins line again. An air of delight and relief greeted the final whistle.
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.