"Blow the hooter, ref!" pleaded one young Harlequins fan, to much hilarity – there were 15 minutes left. At that point, Quins were leading this thrilling Challenge Cup tie which they had dominated after falling 20 points behind shortly after half-time.
Instead, the referee, Ian Smith, missed Jamie Peacock dropping the ball over the line and awarded Leeds a try on 77 minutes. Thankfully for Smith, Danny McGuire scored again on the hooter.
It was the third successive game Quins had lost late on. "We've been outstanding for three games," said Brian McDermott, who walked on to the pitch to talk to his devastated team.
Depleted Leeds took the lead in the 11th minute. The Quins wing Will Sharp broke down the left but lost possession and saw Ben Jones-Bishop go 70 metres to score. Quins were rewarded for a positive spell on 22 minutes when Tony Clubb burrowed under three tacklers from a yard out, but Henry Paul missed the simple conversion. They were soon eight points down as Peacock offloaded for McGuire to dance under the posts, Kevin Sinfield converting.
Quins trailed 18-4 at the break. Two minutes before half-time Rob Burrow threw two dummies and a superb pick-up by the 16-year-old centre Kallum Watkins sent Super League's top try-scorer, Scott Donald, in on the left. Three minutes into the second half Matt Diskin's grubber kick was missed by Chad Randall and McGuire touched down, Sinfield making it 24-4.
Two Quins tries in three minutes put the game back in the balance. Both were scored on the left: Danny Orr exploited a gaping hole and Paul went over in a tackle. Paul converted both and when he scored again on 57 minutes, converting his own try, the Leeds lead was two points. Quins went ahead four minutes later when Orr touched down. Paul's kick hit the post. In the end, it did not matter.
Harlequins: Wells; Sharp, Gafa, Howell, Sheriffe; Paul, Orr; Temata, Randall, Clubb, Worrincy, Mbu. Substitutes used: Rinaldi, Melling, Haggerty, Grayshon.
Leeds: Jones-Bishop; Hall, Watkins, Senior, Donald; McGuire, Burrow; Leuluai, Tansey, Scruton, Ablett, Peacock, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Diskin, Ellis, Worrall, Allan.
Referee: I Smith (Oldham).Reuse content