Returning from injury and in his first game since mid-December, Josh Taumalolo scored 24 points in NEC Harlequins comprehensive 64-22 victory over arch-rivals London Wasps at the Stoop last night (16th February) in the Zurich A league. The Tongan international scored one of the home sides nine tries in the match and also kicked 19 points.
Quins opened the scoring with seven minutes on the clock. Centre Tom Allen took play deep into the Wasps twenty-two and after Matt Moore was held-up short of the line, Kai Hortsmann was in support to power his was over from close range for a try that Taumalolo converted.
11 minutes later and Ben Willis broke free from a scrum just inside his own half and despite not having the pace to go all the way, Chris Cracknell was the grateful recipient of the scoring pass. The back row forward touchdown under the posts, which presented Taumalolo with a simple conversion to put Quins 14-0 in front.
Fly half Nick Defty scored the visitors first points of the night with a penalty as the game entered the second quarter, but straight from the restart Moore raced over for Quins third try. Taking possession off Laurent Gomez, the winger showed great pace to beat a handful of defenders in a race to the left hand corner. Taumalolo for once failed with the conversion attempt, but Quins now had a 16-point lead (19-3).
Winger Michael Roberts raced in down the left flank for Wasps opening try that Defty converted, which cut the deficit by seven points ten minutes before the break. Luke Sherriff then put in an excellent try saving tackle on Defty that meant Quins kept their two score lead at half-time (19-10).
Taumalolo opened the scoring with a penalty four minutes into the second half before Ceri Jones went over following a catch and drive from the pack. Taumalolo added the two extra points on offer and was then called into action once again on 52 minutes, this time converting a score from full back Tom Williams. This moved the score onto 36-10 in Quins favour.
Taumalolo capitalized on a turnover of possession on the Wasps twenty-two to race over for try number six, which he duly converted, but then had a pass intercepted by centre James Wellwood who sprinted clear for Wasps second try of the contest. Replacement Michael Whitehead made no mistake with the conversion to make the score 43-17.
Mike Brown, on for the injured Rob Jewell, made the most of a break from Jones for Quins next try and with Taumalolo slotting his sixth conversion, it took the home side onto the 50-point mark after 66 minutes. Brown's fellow replacement Scott Bemand was the next player on the scoresheet, going over unchallenged in the right hand corner following another powerful catch and drive from the pack. Taumalolo was again on target with the conversion.
Substitute Robbie Shaw went over for a consolation score for Wasps, but it was Duncan James who ran clear down the left for the final try of the night in injury time and Taumalolo's successful conversion was immediately followed by the final whistle.
Final score, 64-22.
NEC Harlequins XV: T. Williams, S. Crowley, T. Allen, R. Jewell, M. Moore, J. Taumalolo, B. Willis, C. Jones, C. Dott, L. Gomez, S. Miall, B. Davison, C. Cracknell, L. Sherriff, K. Hortsmann
Replacements: T. Muggridge, R. Dejager, R. Winters, G. Hart, S. Bemand, M. Brown, D. James
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.