NEC Harlequins came away with two points from their visit to Vicarage Road, following an 8-8 draw against Saracens in the Zurich Premiership. A second half try from Gavin Duffy and a drop goal from Jeremy Staunton put Quins into a five-point lead going into the final ten minutes, before winger Richard Haughton dived over in the right hand corner for a score that gave Saracens a share of the points.
In a truly disappointing first half, when Quins rarely threatened in attack, Saracens fly half Glen Jackson had the opportunity to open the scoring after just six minutes, but remarkably pushed a relatively straight forward penalty kick wide of the target. However, he made no mistake when offered a second opportunity five minutes later after Quins were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle, though Jackson's penalty would be the only points in the first half.
Despite dominating territory and possession throughout much of the opening 40 minutes, Saracens failed to add to their tally as some excellent defence from the visitors prevented the hosts from registering the first try of the afternoon. Saracens failed to capitalise on an excellent break from centre Dan Harris deep into Quins twenty-two and then when opting to kick a penalty into the corner, as opposed to taking the three points on offer.
It was Quins who dominated play at the start of the second half, and both Nick Easter and Mel Deane were held-up just short of the line. Moments later and Gavin Duffy made an excellent break down the right wing but his potential try scoring pass was intercepted by Saracens full back Mark Bartholomeusz, who cleared the danger. However, persistent pressure from the visitors was finally rewarded as the game went into the final quarter.
A patient build-up, which took play deep into the Saracens twenty-two, resulted in Duffy brilliantly collecting a poor pass from Staunton before diving over in the right hand corner after breaking through a tackle from Bartholomeusz. Staunton missed the conversion from wide out, but made no mistake with a drop goal attempt from in front of the posts minutes later to make the score 8-3 in Quins favour.
Back came Saracens, though they left it late to salvage a draw. With five minutes left on the clock and with the Quins defence on the back foot and deep in their twenty-two, replacement Thomas Castaignede gave Haughton the scoring pass after the overlap was created down the right flank. Jackson's conversion attempt hit the cross-bar, while Staunton missed a long-range drop goal from the restart that could have won Quins the match.
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.