A try from Ben Gollings right on the stroke of full time secured NEC Harlequins a 17-13 victory over Leeds Tykes, and a place in the Powergen Cup quarterfinals. Four penalties from Paul Burke had helped to make the score 12-13 going into the last ten minutes, after Quins had trailed 6-13 at half-time.
It was the visitors who made the more promising start of the two teams and after eight minutes had gone into a 6-0 lead. A powerful run from Leeds number eight Isaac Feaunati took play deep into Quins territory where the home side were penalised for being offside. Braam van Straaten converted the three points on offer after five minutes and then doubled his sides advantage three minutes later, when Pat Sanderson was guilty of an offside offence.
Burke cut the deficit in half with the first of his four penalties in the match with 12 minutes on the clock, but the Tykes then opened up a ten-point lead as the game went into the second quarter.
Winning possession from a lineout on halfway, Quins looked to move the ball across the back line. However a mix-up between Burke and Nathan Williams saw the ball go to ground and Leeds full back Dan Scarbrough gratefully accepted the opportunity to gather and sprint clear for the opening try of the afternoon. Van Straaten added the two extra points on offer and the visitors led 13-3, though remarkably this would be their last points in the match.
Quins then dominated the rest of the first half and time and again asked questions of the Leeds defence and in particular their pack, as the home side tried to drive their way across the visitors line. However, for all their efforts Quins failed to breakdown their opponents, who remained extremely stubborn in allowing the home side to get back in the match.
Uncharacteristically, Burke hit the post with a relatively straight forward penalty attempt on 23 minutes, but he made amends with the game in first half injury time, leaving Quins trailing by seven points at the break (6-13).
It became very obvious early in the second half that Leeds were intent on trying to hold-on to their advantage and offer little in attack. Fly half Gordon Ross attempted two long range drop goals, neither of which found their intended target. Quins registered their first points of the second half 13 minutes after the restart, with Burke converting penalty number three after Leeds were penalised for being offside.
With 20 minutes left, Quins made five tactical substitutions at once, bringing on Keith Wood, Jon Dawson, Jim Evans, Ace Tiatia and Rob Jewell on for Tani Fuga, Laurent Gomez, Bill Davison, Pat Sanderson and Matt Moore respectively.
With nine minutes remaining, Burke set-up the grandstand finale by converting his fourth penalty of the afternoon after Leeds were penalised for diving in at a ruck. Gollings attempted a long-range drop goal attempt that fell well short of the posts before Quins won possession from a Leeds lineout deep inside their own twenty-two.
Wood went on one of those trademark runs down the right flank, taking play metres from the Leeds line. The ball went into the midfield where Tiatia offloaded to Greenwood, before he unleashed the try scoring pass to Gollings, who comfortably hade the pace to beat opposite number Winston Stanley to the corner.
Burke failed to add the two extra points on offer from right on the left hand touchline and despite a late rally from Leeds, it was Quins who were celebrating when referee Steve Lander blew the final whistle.
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.