NEC Harlequins suffered their second defeat against Leicester Tigers in just over a week, as a try from Austin Healey 13 minutes from the end proved to be the match winning score in a 23-20 victory for the visitors. Despite scoring two cracking tries through Ben Willis and Mel Deane, Quins were left to rue what might have been as basic errors at crucial times ultimately resulted in their third straight loss in the league.
Quins made a fast start and led 10-0 after 11 minutes. Andy Dunne opened the scoring with a penalty and was then involved in the move then ended in a thrilling try for Willis. Dunne put Ugo Monye away inside his own twenty-two and the flying winger beat both Leon Lloyd and Andy Goode in a pulsating break that took him deep into Leicester's twenty-two.
Healey made a fine cover tackle but Monye had Willis in support and the scrum half had the simple task of touching down from close range. Dunne added the two extra points to put Quins ten points clear. However, two penalties from Goode cut the deficit to four points before the Tigers took the lead for the first time after 27 minutes.
From a scrum five metres from the line, lock forward Louis Deacon burrowed over for the try. Goode failed with the conversion and a second penalty from Dunne nine minutes before the break put Quins back in front by 13-11. Then with the game in first half injury time, Henry Tuilaigi dived over in the right hand corner following a break from Deacon. Goode converted from the touchline to make the score 18-13 to the Tigers at the break.
Deacon was sent to the sin-bin for punching eight minutes after the restart and Quins made the most of their extra man advantage. Dunne fed Deane from a scum inside the Leicester twenty-two and the centre burst through a couple of tackles before having the pace to beat Healey to the left hand corner. Dunne successfully found the target from the touchline and Quins led once again with a two point advantage (20-18) after 51 minutes.
However, 16 minutes later and Healey came up with the crucial try. Harry Ellis broke free from the base of a scrum and then fed Healey on the Quins twenty-two and the former England winger sprinted in for the decisive score. Goode hooked his conversion wide of the posts leaving Quins three points behind (20-23).
In the time that remained Quins had their chances to snatch a victory, but they failed to make the most of the pressure they put on the Tigers defence. Fly half Jaco van der Westhuyzen found touch after a turnover of ball and after that the final whistle went, much to the frustration of the Quins players and supporters alike.
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.