Five tries from NEC Harlequins resulted in a 39-36 defeat over Bath Rugby in their Guinness A League match at Imber Court last night (Monday 26th March). It addition to claiming a victory, the home side also came away with the maximum five points and extended their winning run in the A League to three matches.
With Quins knocking the ball on at the kick-off, Bath took the lead from the resulting scrum. Quick ball from the set-piece allowed winger Matt Banahan to sail over the line unopposed and score the first of the visitors five tries in the match.
Quins response followed soon after, with number eight Chris Hala'Ufia making ground down the right flank before releasing Academy winger Adam Thompstone, who was able to run in under the posts. Andrew Mehrtens made no mistake with the simple conversion and make the score 7-5 with just four minutes on the clock.
With Hala'Ufia breaking Bath's defence at every opportunity, it wasn't long before he ran half the length of the pitch and forced the visitors into conceding a penalty. Mehrtens duly added the three points to Quins tally that give the home side a five-point cushion (10-5).
The lead was short lived though as Bath lock Adrian Griffiths barged his way over the for the visitors second try. A successful conversion from fly half Luke Cozens gave Bath the lead for the second time, only for Mehrtens to nudge Quins back in front with his second penalty (13-12).
Quins second try of the night came shortly before half-time, with Steve So'oialo taking a quick penalty and releasing Tosh Masson who showed good strength to cross the line and claim the five points. Mehrtens converted, while Cozens kicked a penalty for Bath that made the score 20-15 to Quins at the break.
It was Bath who again opened the scoring after the restart with flanker Jack Bentall powering through the Quins defence to run 40 metres and score the try. Cozens converted and Bath were back in front by two points (20-22).
Quins replied by spreading the ball wide to Masson, who found himself in space on the overlap to touchdown near the posts for his second try of the evening. Mehrtens was able to convert and from the restart, Quins earned themselves another penalty. Mehrtens duly kicked to the corner and from the resulting lineout, Aston Croall was driven over for Quins bonus point score that gave the hosts a ten point advantage (32-22).
Bath kept themselves in contention with a breakaway try of their own from centre George Hughes that Cozens converted, which made the score 32-29. With the game back in the balance, Quins powered themselves back up to the visitors try line and following a series of pick and drives from the forwards, the ball fell to So'oialo who spotted a gap in the Bath defence and go over for Quins fifth and final try.
The match seemed to be over, but Bath managed to turn over possession deep in their own twenty two and took play virtually unopposed all the way to Quins try line in a move finished off by winger Charlie Perry, with Cozens again adding the two extra points on offer and cut the deficit to three points once again (39-36). However, it would prove to be the final score in the game.
Final score, 39-36.
NEC Harlequins XV: 15. Will Maddocks, 14. Adam Thompstone, 13. Tosh Masson, 12. Seb Jewell, 11. Mike Marsh, 10. Andrew Mehrtens, 9. Steve So'oialo, 1. Aston Croall, 2. James Hayter, 3. Mark Lambert, 4. Nicolas Spanghero, 5. Simon Miall, 6. Tom Guest, 7. Phil Burgess, 8. Chris Hala'Ufia
Replacements: 16. Dave Millard, 17. Jimmy Richards, 18. Lorne Ward, 19. George Robson, 20. Luke Sherriff, 21. Ian Barnes, 22. Richard Briggs
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.