Gregor Townsend was the hero for the Sharks, as he kicked an injury time penalty to give the South African Super 12 side a 29-27 win in an entertaining game at the Stoop. Quins trailed 19-0 early on in the match but staged a tremendous fight back and a drop goal from Andy Dunne four minutes from the end looked to have given the home side a victory, before Townsend's late strike.
The Sharks opened the scoring with the game just four minutes old. Full back Brent Russell made a break in the midfield before feeding number eight Nico Breedt, who had the pace to beat Tom Williams to the line. Butch James converted to put the Sharks 7-0 in front. Russell was then in the thick of the action again soon after, diving over in the left hand corner for the visitors second try after 10 minutes.
Quins then had their chances to get their first points on the board in a period of sustained pressure, but it was the Sharks who extended their lead with 29 minutes on the clock. Prop Gurthro Steenkamp powered his way over from close range and James added the conversion from in fronts of the posts to make it 19-0.
Quins registered their first points of the night just before half-time. James Hayter combined well with Bill Davison at a lineout and then wriggled through a number of tackles to score on the left. Dunne failed to convert that meant the hosts trailed by 14 points at the break (5-19).
Hayter gave Quins the perfect start to the second half, as he claimed his second score following a good catch and drive from the forwards. Dunne's successful conversion cut the deficit to just five points (12-19). Despite having Russell Winter in the sin-bin, the Sharks stretched their lead further as the game entered the final quarter. Man-of-the-match Trevor Halstead was in support of Henno Mentz, and had a run-in under the posts. Townsend took over the kicking duties with James off the field and made no mistake with the simple conversion.
Quins response was immediate with Matt Moore sprinting through a number of tackles for a superb individual try. Dunne converted and it was the fly half's chip through that led to Quins fourth try of the match with eight minutes remaining. Rob Jewell gathered the ball just before it ran out of play and he expertly touched down in the right hand corner. Dunne failed to draw the scores level with the touchline conversion but his drop goal put Quins in front for the first time in the game (27-26).
However, the Sharks pressurised the Quins line straight from the restart and Townsend gratefully accepted to take the three points on offer from a penalty awarded just to the right of the posts, which proved to be the match winning score.
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.