Quins leave it late to take maximum points off Connacht
20 January 2007 16:26pm
NEC Harlequins completed their European Challenge Cup campaign by claiming the maximum points in a 26-10 defeat of Connacht at the Twickenham Stoop. The home side looked to be heading for a much bigger margin of victory after leading 19-3 at the halfway stage. However, it took a try from Chris Hala'Ufia two minutes from the end to secure Quins a bonus point.
The visitors opened their account with just four minutes on the clock. Mike Brown made ground down the right flank, while a wonderful pick-up from Adrian Jarvis kept the move going deep in Connacht's twenty-two. With a huge overlap created out wide, Hal Luscombe gratfeully accepted the scoring pass to score in the right hand corner. Adrian Jarvis failed to convert from wide out meaning Quins led 5-0.
The home side continued to dominate proceedings, but were unable to add to their tally and as the game entered the second quarter, centre Mark McHugh kicked a penalty for Connacht to cut the deficit to just two points (5-3). However, Quins hit back minutes later to open up a two-score lead.
David Strettle made ground in a move that left the Connacht defence stretched, which saw Jarvis throw a perfectly weighted cut out pass to Brown that allowed the full back to break through a gap in midfield and race over for the touchdown to the left of the posts. Jarvis added the two extra points on offer to make the score 12-3 with 24 minutes on the clock.
After Jarvis saw a penalty attempt rebound off a post and fall back into play, the home side extended their advantage shortly before the interval. Jarvis released Hala'Ufia, who was held-up just short of the line but Stuart Abbott was in close support to dive over for his first try for the club. A successful conversion from Jarvis gave Quins their 14-point lead at half-time (19-3).
The hosts enjoyed a sustained period of pressure deep in the Connacht half straight after the restart and it looked as if they would have few problems claiming their bonus point try. Their best chance saw Luscombe just fail to gather a chip through from Jarvis after good work Paul Volley and Tani Fuga had set-up the opportunity.
Then against the run of play, Connacht broke downfield and scored their only try of the match. Replacement Gavin Williams fended off an attempted challenge from Andy Gomarsall before making inroads into Quins terriory, where scrum half Conor O'Loughlin was in support to take the scoring pass and stroll over the line unopposed for a try that Peter Durcan converted.
With time running out, Quins eventually added to their tally shortly before the final whistle. The hosts stole possesion at a ruck deep in the Connacht twenty-two that allowed Hala'Ufia to storm forward and through a number of would-be defenders to claim the try and with it the bonus point. Jarvis converted to complete the scoring in the match.
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.