NEC Harlequins losing streak in the Zurich Premiership continued but their performance deserved more than a bonus point in losing out to arch-rivals London Wasps 19-16 at the Causeway Stadium. Despite conceding a try in the opening play of the game, Quins hit back to lead 13-10 at half-time. However, three second half penalties from Wasps full back Mark Van Gisbergen helped the home side to hold-on for a victory.
No sooner had the game started then Quins found themselves seven points behind. Will Greenwood failed to gather the kick-off allowing Wasps winger Tom Voyce to gather the loose ball and be powered over the line, under the posts for the try. Van Gisbergen added the conversion to give the home team a dream start.
Back came Quins and Jeremy Staunton's opening penalty of the night put them on the scoreboard after ten minutes. With Simon Shaw sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul nine minutes later, Quins made the most of having an extra man advantage. Firstly, Staunton kicked the penalty that led to Shaw's yellow card before Greenwood went over for the final try of the match with 24 minutes on the clock.
Simon Keogh returned a loose clearance kick with interest and took play deep into the Wasps twenty-two. Despite the winger being tackled short of the line, Greenwood was in support to take the scoring pass and stroll over from close range. Staunton added the two extra points to put Quins into a six-point lead (13-7).
Eight minutes before the interval and it was Quins turn to be reduced to 14 men with captain Andre Vos sin-binned for hands in the ruck. Van Gisbergen found the target with his kick at goal from the resulting penalty, which cut the deficit to three points at the halfway stage (10-13).
Wasps were first on the scoreboard after the restart as Van Gisbergen converted his second penalty seven minutes into the half, with Quins penalised for being offside. As the game approached the final quarter, Luke Sherriff made a storming break into the Wasps twenty-two but was hauled down by Ayoola Erinle before being able to get his pass away, with Quins then wasting the good position they created after recycling possession.
Moments later and it was George Harder's turn to be sin-binned and Van Gisbergen put Wasps back in front from the penalty. Staunton tied the scores at 16-apiece 14 minutes from the end after good work from Nick Easter and Tani Fuga created the opportunity for a drop goal, which the Quins fly half gratefully accepted.
Just three minutes later and Van Gisbergen kicked what would be the match winning penalty, with the visitors penalised for being offside after a drive from the Wasps pack had put the Quins defence on the back foot.
In the time that remained, Quins threw everything they had at their opponents as they searched for the match winning try. Harder was held-up close to the line after taking a short ball from a scrum five metres out, while a long range drop goal attempt from Tom Williams was well wide of the target after Wasps cleared the danger. The final whistle came with an air of relief and frustration for the home and away supporters respectively.
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.