NEC Harlequins crashed to their third successive defeat of the new Zurich Premiership season, as Leeds Tykes maintained their 100% winning record with a 33-23 victory at the Stoop. With the game tied at 23-all going into the last 10 minutes, Leeds secured their win with a penalty from Braam van Straaten, who then converted a try from Cameron Mather with just 60 seconds left on the clock.
It was the former South African international van Straaten who had the opportunity to open the scoring two minutes in, but he pushed a penalty attempt to the right of the target after Quins were penalised at the opening scrum of the match. Paul Burke then put Quins in front with a penalty eight minutes later, with Leeds guilty of being offside in defence.
Good defence from the home side then kept Leeds at bay, but that all changed after 18 minutes. An up and under from Leeds fly half Gordon Ross was won by van Straaten, ahead of Nathan Williams, inside the Quins twenty-two. The visitors recycled possession before van Straaten put-in a beautifully judged chip to the left hand corner that Tykes full back Dan Scarbrough gathered to score. Van Straaten converted to give Leeds a 7-3 lead, which he increased by three points four minutes later when he kicked his first penalty of the game.
Quins hit back and drew level after 32 minutes. A powerful break from Keith Wood took play into the heart of Leeds territory and close to the line. The ball went right through the hands of Ben Gollings and Burke, before Viliame Satala marked his first start in a Premiership game by going over for the try. Burke converted and then kicked a drop goal to give Quins a 13-10 lead at the break.
Four minutes after the restart and Scarbrough had his second try of the match. Excellent work from replacement Chris Hall, on for the injured Ross, took play into the Quins half. Winger George Harder continued the move before releasing Scarbrough and giving the full back a clear run to the line. Van Straaten converted and then added another penalty to his tally, which he converted from well inside his own half, making the score 20-13 to Leeds.
Burke responded with his second penalty of the game, before Will Greenwood scored Quins second try of the match. A persistent attack, involving Satala, Matt Moore and Pat Sanderson, ended with Greenwood bursting through the defence to score wide out on 68 minutes. Burke levelled the scores by converting from close to the right hand touchline and the game was in the balance at 23-23 going into the last ten minutes.
But it was Leeds who finished the stronger and van Straaten's fourth penalty of the game put them back in front with five minutes remaining. Victory was then secured when Cameron Mather crossed for his sides third try of the game. The flanker gathered the ball from a Quins scrum deep inside the home sides twenty-two and had a simple run-in for the try. Van Straaten converted to complete the scoring and end a miserable afternoon for the home side.
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.