Dan Luger charged down Barry Everitt's match winning conversion to give NEC Harlequins a share of the points from their visit to London Irish, 18-18. Drop goals from David Slemen and Ben Gollings put Quins 18-13 in front with the game deep in injury time and it looked as if Quins were heading for their first away league win of the season. Irish full back Michael Horak then scored in the left hand corner with the last play of the game to give Everitt the chance to win the match, though Luger intervened to give both sides two points. The result means that Quins move off the bottom of the Premiership table and two points ahead of Leeds Tykes, who lost away to Bath by 23-12.
Paul Burke opened the scoring for the visitors after five minutes of play. With the home side penalised at the ruck, Burke converted the resulting penalty and put Quins 3-0 in front. Further pressure from Quins finally resulted in Burke doubling his sides advantage with a second penalty after 21 minutes, when Irish were penalised for not releasing the ball in the tackle.
Irish fly half James Brown had the chance to cut the deficit in half two minutes later but pushed his penalty attempt to the right of the target. He made amends on 25 minutes, converting a penalty after Quins were penalised for not rolling away at the tackle. As the game approached the halfway mark, Burke had the opportunity to restore Quins six-point advantage but his penalty attempt came back off the post. Then with the game in first half injury time, Irish took the lead for the first time in the match.
Winger Justin Bishop fielded a clearance kick from Matthew Powell and the ball went wide to Horak, who took play deep into the Quins twenty-two. He floated a pass inside to Nnamdi Ezulike and the winger crossed for the opening try of the game. Brown converted to give Irish a 10-6 lead at the interval.
Slemen replaced Burke at half-time and was immediately in the thick of the action. Four minutes into the half, Irish flanker Paul Gustard was sin-binned for deliberate offside and Slemen converted the resulting penalty to cut the deficit down to a single point, 10-9. With 55 minutes on the clock, Everitt replaced Brown and converted a penalty just a minute later to put Irish ahead by 13-9 but Slemen responded with a drop goal to once again cut the deficit down to a single point.
Quins continued to attack but never threatened the Irish line. Then with five minutes of normal time remaining, Slemen attempted a drop goal from all of 45 metres that sailed through the posts and put Quins back in front, 15-13. Though Slemen failed to make it a hat-trick of drop goals, slicing an effort to the right of the target, Gollings had better success with an attempt four minutes into injury time. Quins now led 18-13 and were on course for a vital victory.
Irish had different ideas and drove play up to the Quins line from the restart, where they were awarded a penalty. Everitt kicked for touch and a catch and drive from the pack was held-up over the line by the Quins defence. From the resulting five metre scrum, the ball went to Horak on the left and he was allowed to run-in unopposed for the try. Everritt took his time in taking the conversion, allowing Luger to charge down the kick, which was closely followed by 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.