NEC Harlequins are still searching for their first win of the Zurich Premiership season following a 15-9 defeat to Leicester Tigers at the Stoop. Five penalties from Tigers fly half Andy Goode against three from Jeremy Staunton proved to be the difference between the two sides, with the power of the visitors pack denying Quins possession and territory for the majority of the second half.
It was Goode who opened the scoring after three minutes, converting his first penalty from the halfway line after Quins were guilty of hands in the ruck. Staunton responded in similar fashion just four minutes later to make the score 3-3, with the Tigers penalised at a set-piece scrum.
Straight from the restart, Tani Fuga and Ceri Jones combined to take play just short of halfway but Andre Vos knocked the ball on. At the resulting scrum, it Quins turned to be penalised by referee Dave Pearson and Goode once again found the target with his kick at goal to restore the Tigers three-point advantage.
Staunton had the opportunity to level the score on 14 minutes but saw his penalty kick fall short of the posts. As the game went into the second quarter, Goode's third penalty attempt of the day came back off the upright, though he made amends moments later after a break from full back Geordan Murphy down the left flank caught Quins offside in midfield.
The home sides response was immediate, with George Harder powering into the Leicester defence deep in their twenty-two. The visitors were guilty of going over the top at the ruck and allowed Staunton to cut the deficit back to three points (6-9). Ten minutes before the interval and Tigers flanker Neil Back was sent to the sin-bin for deliberately killing the ball and Staunton made no mistake with the penalty from in front of the posts, making the score nine-all.
Despite being a man down, it was Leicester who came close to scoring a try. Centre Seru Rabeni thundered his way into the Quins twenty-two but a try saving tackle from Will Greenwood led to him knocking the ball forward five metres from the line.
However, in first half injury time Goode was given the chance to put the Tigers back in front after Quins were again guilty of hands in the ruck. The fly half collected the three points on offer to make the score 12-9 to Leicester at the break.
Quins made a positive start to the second half and a powerful drive from the pack took play into the Tigers twenty-two, though the move broke down after Staunton was well tackled by Goode. Ten minutes into the half and Goode put Leicester back into a six point lead; completing the scoring in the game with his fifth penalty of the afternoon after Quins were penalised for pulling down a rolling maul.
In the time that remained, Quins struggled in both the lineout and the scrum that forced them to play much of the game inside their own half. Goode missed two further penalty kicks at goal, which would have denied Quins a bonus point; something their performance more than deserved.
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.