NEC Harlequins suffered their third defeat against Bath this season and at the same time saw their five match winning run come to an end in a 31-23 reversal in their Guinness Premiership clash at the Recreation Ground. The home side dominated the first half and built-up an 18-point lead (24-6) at the halfway stage, only for the visitors to hit back after the restart and finish the game unlucky not to come away with at least a bonus point.
Quins started the stronger of the two sides, with Adrian Jarvis converting a penalty to put the visitors in front with just three minutes on the clock. Minutes later and Bath centre Olly Barkley ambitiously attempted to equalise from beyold the halfway line, but his penalty fell well short of the target. However, the home side then made inroads into the Quins half and a further penalty saw Chris Malone accurately kick for the corner.
From the resulting lineout, the Bath forwards confidently drove captain Steve Borthwick over the line for their opening try that Barkley converted to put the hosts into a lead they would not relinquish. Further pressure from Bath deep in Quins twenty-two led to Nick Easter being sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul, with Barkley then converting the penalty to make the score 10-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Bath continued to ask questions of the Quins defence and with 24 minutes on the clock, back row forward James Scaysbrook released winger Joe Maddock on the visitors twenty-two. He cut through a gap in the Quins defence at pace and raced away to score Bath's second try of the day unopposed. Barkley made no mistake in adding the two extra points on offer to take the hosts into a two-score lead (17-3).
Five minutes before the interval and a second Jarvis penalty cut the deficit by three points only for Bath to strike a crucial blow in the final play of the half. From a scrum on the halfway line, Barkley made an excellent break deep into Quins twenty-two only to be hauled down short of the line by a cracking cover tackle from David Strettle. However, with quick ball materialising, it resulted in Malone diving over in the left hand corner for the five points. Barkley converted from the touchline to give Bath their commanding advantage at the break (24-6).
Quins started their fight back two minutes after the restart with Jarvis landing his third penalty of the afternoon. Just eight minutes later and the visitors put themselves right back in contention with their opening try. Simon Keogh made ground deep into the Bath half, before good work from Easter and Jarvis resulted in Mike Brown having the space he needed to dive over in the corner. A fine conversion from Jarvis meant that just eight points separated the two sides on the scoreboard (24-16).
Quins had the majority of possession throughout the next period of play but were unable to convert this into points and with the visitors then being penalised for stamping deep in the Bath twenty-two, it allowed the home side to clear the danger. Bath then punished Quins further as centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu finished off a sustained period of pressure for the home sides bonus point try and with Barkley adding the extras, it made the score 31-16 with 15 minutes left to play.
Quins refused to throw in the towel and responded in positive fashion, with Easter powering over from close range for a try that Jarvis converted after 72 minutes. It looked as if the match was then heading for a grandstand finale, but Will Skinner's effort five minutes from time was harshly penalised for being a double movement; a score that would have certainly given Quins a bonus point and indeed a chance of recording an unlikely victory. Easter questioned the decision with referee Rob Debney and as a result received his second yellow card to be sent off.
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.