Alex Codling's late withdrawal from the original 27-man squad that travelled to Scotland was almost an irrelevance, as NEC Harlequins brushed aside a Glasgow team looking to impress their New Zealand born coach Kiwi Searancke at Hughenden last Friday night. Two tries in each half, three of which showed delightful invention and handling skills, powered Quins to a comfortable showing over one of Scotland's top district sides packed with Scottish internationals.
The visitors dominated from the off, forcing the hosts deep into their own half for long periods and Quins struck the opening blow after only seven minutes. A lineout just outside the twenty-two saw Quins set-up a ruck, where Matt Powell spread the ball out to Paul Burke. Will Greenwood then took-up the running before shielding the ball from the Glasgow defence, and as Quins launched dummy runners across the field, new signing Nathan Williams came powering into the line to accept the England centres popped pass to touchdown by the posts. Burke added the simple conversion and Quins were on their way.
The home side threatened to mount a quick response following a rare attacking lineout in the visitors half but despite moving the ball sweetly across the line, the Quins defence stood firm and eventually the ball was turned over and the visitors cleared. Williams, who was having a stunning debut for Quins, showed his defensive qualities with a timely tackle on centre Andrew Henderson midway through the half as the home side threatened again, before Quins reasserted themselves with a second score a few minutes later.
A scrum 30 metres out gave the visitors a good attacking platform and as the ball was spun out wide, Matt Moore's pass to Tony Diprose saw the big number eight flick a delightful back handed pass to Powell, who used Diprose's support play to throw a dummy and scamper through the parting defensive cover for a well worked try. Once again, Burke had no problems adding the extras.
Quins made their first change to their starting line-up at this point, bringing on Rob Jewell for Moore. But irrespective as to who was on the field, the side continued to function well despite the limited time spent on any particular game plan.
A less ring rusty side may well have begun to run riot at this stage, with Quins showing plenty of invention behind a solid looking pack despite the limited experience in the second row, where Karl Rudzki and new boy Simon Miall looked as good as anything Quins have had there over the years.
Such was the visitors dominance in the closing stages of the half that they may have added two further scores. Glasgow's former Cambridge blue Stuart Moffat pulled off a try saving tackle on Ugo Monye, after Greenwood's crossfield kick almost gave him a clear run to the line. Then seconds from the break, Luke Sherriff knocked-on close to the line after Monye, Greenwood and Bell threatened to carve the home side open down the right flank.
The visitors continued to create chances at regular intervals with Ace Tiatia going close early in the second period, before the giant Samoan took advantage of a good catch and drive to touchdown for a third try after 57 minutes. David Slemen, who looked as assured at fly-half as he did at full back at the tail end of last season, converted to stretch the visitors lead to 21 points, but he was unable to garnish Quins fourth try a few minutes later.
Glasgow scrum half Andy Nicol looked to put Quins under pressure with a long kick down to just outside the Quins twenty-two. Williams had no hesitation in going for the kick despite imminent pressure coming in from the chasing attackers and fielded the ball before evading two desperate lunges. Having beaten the first line of defence, Williams then danced through two other challenges before attacking the space in front of him.
Hearing a call to his right, he then sent a beautifully judged kick to within yards of the line that allowed Moore to reach the ball ahead of any defender before kicking ahead to touchdown over the tryline.
Glasgow briefly threatened to pull themselves into the game when they scored their only points early in the fourth quarter. Jason White forced his way over in the right hand corner from a short range lineout. Graeme Beveridge converted to narrow the gap to 26-7, but it was Quins who finished the stronger.
Tiatia almost put Bell away with the game entering the final ten minutes, and Sanderson and Slemen went just as close.
It was a good start for Quins, especially away from home and against unknown opposition, but Wednesday's test against Beziers will be a step-up again.
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.