NEC Harlequins recorded their second Zurich Premiership victory of the campaign with a 19-13 win over Sale Sharks at Edgeley Park. After Simon Keogh scored Quins only try of the match early on, it was left to the boot of Jeremy Staunton to do the rest of the visitors scoring as the fly half finished with a personal tally of 14 points.
Keogh raced over for his try after just four minutes to give Quins a dream start. Steve So'oialo made a fantastic break down the left flank and his perfectly timed pass gave the winger a clear run to the line. Staunton converted and then kicked a penalty, though his opposite number Byron Hayward responded in similar fashion to make the score 10-3 to Quins with 13 minutes on the clock.
Sale dominated proceedings throughout much of the second quarter and with the visitors consistently being penalised for foul play, it was only a matter of time before referee Wayne Barnes started to send players to the sin-bin. Quins captain Andre Vos was the first to receive a yellow card and minutes later he was joined on the touchline by Staunton.
Despite some excellent defence from Quins, persistent pressure eventually resulted in Sale scoring their only try of the contest. After winning a scrum against the head inside the Quins twenty-two, the home side created an overlap on the left and it was centre Robert Todd who dived over from close range ten minutes before the break.
Hayward's successful conversion tied the score at 10-10, but a second penalty from Staunton right on the stroke of half-time gave Quins a three point lead at the interval.
Another Staunton penalty stretched Quins advantage to six three minutes after the restart, with the home side guilty of infringing at a lineout. Hayward cut the deficit back to three points with his second penalty as the game approached the final quarter, as Quins were penalised for being offside following a bulldozing run from Sale number eight Sebastian Chabal.
Quins had their chances to stretch their lead further, as both Mike Worsley and George Harder were held-up short of the line before a number of unforced errors meant a couple of excellent rolling mauls from the pack deep into Sale territory were wasted.
With three minutes left on the clock, Staunton re-established Quins six point lead by converting his fourth penalty from wide out on the right, following a break from Dafydd James that took play deep into the Sale twenty-two. Time remained for the home side to launch a number of attacks as they went in pursuit of a match winning try, but they failed to trouble the Quins line thanks to some great defence from the visitors.
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.