Whatever NEC Harlequins failed to do in Saturday's (21st December 2002) Powergen Cup tie with Leeds Tykes - and there was plenty - the one area that they were successful with more than any other, was in their ability to restrict the visitors to a mere three penalties in the entire match, with none conceded in the second half.
"If we were going to come back and win it we were going to have to do it in bite size chunks and be very disciplined and not give away any penalties," said NEC Harlequins head coach Mark Evans, after the win that took his team into the quarterfinals for a record equalling 22nd time.
"I think we only gave away three in the whole game and two of them they kicked in the first 10 minutes. We didn't give away one in the second half. We have got the lowest penalty count in the league and it is one of the things we work very hard on," continued the all singing and all dancing Quins man with some justifiable pride.
"We are a disciplined side and that probably more than anything else kept us in the game, because if we conceded a couple we may never have won the match. Leeds did have some territory in the second half; it was not like the second quarter where we camped in their half."
"If we had conceded one or two penalties we probably wouldn't have got it back and that for me, I know it sounds very dull, was the most pleasing thing about the performance. We showed a lot of discipline and in 60 minutes of football we gave away one penalty; that is a pretty good effort."
However Quins secured enough primary possession that should have made the game safe by the break, but poor execution, poor handling, and poor ball retention, all contributed to making it a live game right to the death.
"The other side of the game is that we turned a lot of ball over, and to a degree you can put some of that down to the conditions," ventured Evans.
"It is very hard to get the ball wide, and we did try, and we did score eventually doing so. I thought in the second quarter there would be a yellow card at one stage. We only got a penalty with all that pressure but it was an important penalty. To get it back to 13-6 was vital and we just kept pegging away. I thought it was a good advert for summer rugby," added Evans wryly.
"That's the fifth game in a row we played in the rain and it is difficult," continued the Quins boss.
"Fair play to Leeds they didn't play at all, and there is nothing in the rules that says you have to. They didn't play until the last five minutes when they were down. But they are a good side well organized, with a good goal kicker, and with good kickers out of hand."
"Lots of good sides have lost to them this year, and they've lost because they've conceded a lot of penalties and got frustrated. They are a difficult side to play against as they frustrate you and if you start to lose your discipline, then they beat you."
"I said in the week that the most important thing would be concentration and I think that was true. Although technically we made a lot of errors and made mistakes, I thought our concentration level was good."
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.