NEC Harlequins suffered a heartbreaking defeat to London Wasps at the Causeway Stadium, as Mark Van Gisbergen's successful conversion of Ayoola Erinle's try deep into injury time gave the home side a victory by 22-21.
Quins led 14-3 midway through the first half, but conceded two tries in the final five minutes before the interval to trail by a point at the halfway stage (15-14). Pat Sanderson scored his second try of the match right at the start of the second half, but with the visitors failing to add to their total after this it allowed Erinle and Van Gisbergen to snatch victory for Wasps right at the death.
Quins made a dream start as Ugo Monye raced over for his fifth try against Wasps in the last three matches with just two minutes on the clock. After winning the ball against the head from a Wasps scrum, Simon Keogh broke free from the set-piece and had half back partner Andy Dunne in support. The fly half then gave Monye the space he needed to sprint clear down the left wing and there was only one winner in the race to the line. Dunne converted from the touchline to put Quins 7-0 in front.
With 17 minutes on the clock, Van Gisbergen put Wasps first points on the board with a penalty but Quins stretched their advantage just five minutes later. From a scrum on halfway, Keogh fed George Harder on the right and the winger made his way up to the Wasps twenty-two. Sanderson took the inside pass and just had the pace and strength to hold off a challenge from Rob Howley to score Quins second try by the posts. Dunne once again added the two points on offer to put the visitors 11-points clear (14-3).
On 35 minutes, referee Chris White sent Karl Rudzki to the sin-bin for deliberate offside and the home side took full advantage of having an extra man. Flanker George Skivington scored Wasps first try of the afternoon following a catch and drive from the pack, but Van Gisbergen saw his conversion attempt come back off the post. Quins then failed to make the most of an excellent break from Mel Deane that took play right up to the Wasps line and with Van Gisbergen converting his own try in first half injury time, the hosts went into the break in front for the first time (15-14).
No sooner had the second half started then Quins had their third try of the game. With Wasps failing to deal with Dunne's deep restart into the twenty-two, Quins quickly recycled possession and got the ball out to the left wing where Sanderson dived over for his second try. Despite being on the touchline, Dunne found the target with the conversion to make the score 21-15 in Quins favour.
Remarkably, there were no further points scored in the second half until right at the end. Van Gisbergen missed a penalty attempt with just over 25 minutes left to play, while Quins excellent defence looked to have won them the game with 80 minutes showing on the clock.
Replacement Laurent Gomez was then shown the yellow card and when Dunne saw a clearance kick charged down, it handed possession back to Wasps. After the pack was held-up just short of the line, the ball went wide and to Erinle in midfield. He burst through a couple of tackles and touchdown to the right of the posts.
Despite Quins best efforts to charge down the conversion attempt, Van Gisbergen made no mistake in adding the crucial two extra points to the Wasps tally that handed them victory. The final whistle followed immediately, much to the delight of the home supporters.
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.