NEC Harlequins take a 33-point lead into the second leg of their Parker Pen Challenge Cup quarterfinal tie with Brive, following a comprehensive 41-8 victory over the French club at the Stoop. Fly half Paul Burke kicked 21 points for the home side while winger George Harder scored two of Quins four tries.
Indeed, Harder was on the scoresheet inside the first minute of the match. Tani Fuga, Ace Tiatia and Jim Evans all powered their way into Brive territory, before the ball went out to Harder on the right wing and he managed to fend off two would-be defenders to score in the corner.
Burke failed to convert but kicked a penalty and then a drop goal, after ten and 14 minutes respectively, to put Quins 11 points ahead. Brive had their chances to get back in the match but failed to make the most of excellent breaks from number eight Simon Azoulai and winger Jerome Nave, while fly half Sebastian Laloo missed two penalty kicks at goal.
Burke and Laloo traded penalties in the final five minutes before half-time, to make the score 14-3 in Quins favour at the interval.
After Laloo missed another penalty just after the restart, Harder went through for his and Quins second try. From a scrum just inside the Brive twenty-two, Simon Keogh fed Burke and his inside pass allowed the winger to burst through the midfield and round full back Jerome Carrat to score under the posts. Burke made no mistake with the simple conversion to stretch Quins advantage to 18 points (21-3).
Following good work from Tiatia and Harder, Burke broke through the French sides defence and a long pass out to the left gave Fuga the space he needed to score Quins third try of the afternoon. Burke added the two extra points to make the score 31-3 after 54 minutes.
After Burke kicked another penalty, Nave gave Brive a glimmer of hope by breaking free from a lineout and beating Gavin Duffy in the race to the left hand corner. Replacement Valentin Courrent failed with the conversion from wide out, making the score 31-8 with 14 minutes remaining.
Burke landed his fourth penalty of the game and then Keogh scored a magnificent individual try on 74 minutes. Taking the ball just inside his own half, the Irishman first wriggled his way through a group of players before winning a race to the corner ahead of replacement Nicolas Couttet. Burke converted from close to the touchline, which completed the scoring in the match.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.