Advantage Quins by nine at halfway stage of cup semi
11 April 2004 15:55pm
NEC Harlequins will take a nine-point lead with them into the second leg of their Parker Pen Challenge Cup semi-final with Connacht, after a 31-22 victory at the Stoop in the opening match. The home side won the try count four to one but 14 points from the boot of Eric Elwood kept Connacht in contention throughout, to make the tie evenly balanced at the halfway stage.
Centre Mark McHugh opened the scoring with a penalty after two minutes to give Connacht the lead, though Paul Burke responded in similar fashion three minutes later. It was the Quins fly half who then put the home side in front with a drop goal, to make the score 6-3 with nine minutes played.
Quins opened the try scoring as the game was about to enter the second quarter. From a scrum five-metres from the Connacht line, Ugo Monye was held-up just short but with quick ball materializing, it was Mel Deane who was given the space he needed to dive over in the left hand corner despite a challenge from winger Conor McPhillips. Burke failed to convert from the touchline though Quins now had an eight-point advantage (11-3) after 18 minutes.
However, the rest of the half was dominated by Connacht and after McHugh missed two penalty kicks at goal and Eric Elwood one, they got their reward right on the stroke of half-time. A powerful catch and drive from the pack resulted in flanker Matt Lacey going over for the try. Elwood added the two extra points on offer to cut the deficit to just a point at the break (11-10).
Quins opened the scoring after the interval ten minutes into the half. Monye made ground down the left flank before the ball found its way to George Harder in the midfield and the winger powered his way past full back Matt Mostyn for a try under the posts. Burke converted but Elwood responded straight away with a penalty to make the score 18-13 in Quins favour.
Monye then raced over for Quins third try of the match. After securing quick ball and creating the overlap down the left, Greenwood gave Monye the scoring pass five metres from the line. With the conversion missed, two penalties in quick succession from Elwood meant Connacht trailed by just four points (23-19) with 20 minutes left.
Burke converted a penalty on 62 minutes but Elwood cancelled this out 13 minutes later and Connacht looked to be heading for just a four point margin of defeat, trailing 26-22. However, replacement Mike McCarthy was sent to the sin-bin and with just a minute to go Greenwood reached out to score the home sides fourth try, after excellent work from the Quins pack. Burke missed the conversion and Quins then failed to add any further points to their tally in the time that remained.
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.