Leeds' preparations for the Challenge Cup final hit a major hitch on their preliminary sortie to London, as Quins completed a first league double over them.
Luke Dorn did much of the damage with a hat-trick, making him the club's all-time leading try-scorer, as the home side rediscovered their long-lost early-season form after only one win in their previous 19. The Rhinos' error-ridden display, however, looked like an acute case of Wembleyitis, just a week before their appointment with Wigan. "We didn't want to go into the biggest match of the year on a poor performance," admitted Brian McDermott, back at his old club for the first time. "I thought Harlequins played very well."
His successor, Rob Powell, agreed. "I don't think a team goes in thinking about next week," he said. "That wouldn't be a fair reflection of what we did today."
Quins, who beat Leeds at Headingley in March, took the lead after 13 minutes through the razor-sharp Dorn. Three minutes later, he was over again after a superbly delayed pass from Chris Bailey. Luke Gale's kick near the try-line then caught Leeds offside and Quins added two points. It went from bad to worse when Kevin Sinfield was sin-binned for delaying a 20-metre restart.
Before half-time, the Londoners took advantage, with Jamie O'Callaghan taking Rob Purdham's pass and twisting through some more Leeds tackling that lacked bite.
A change of ends changed nothing. Gale put in a gem of an attacking kick with the outside of his boot and Dorn timed his run perfectly to complete his hat-trick. The second-half substitute Rob Burrow gave Leeds much-needed energy and he set up Ryan Hall for their first points. Unfazed, Quins replied quickly through their former Leeds winger, Mark Calderwood.
Late tries from Danny McGuire, Burrow and Ian Kirke massaged the final scoreline, but not sufficiently to disguise a thoroughly off-colour performance from the Cup finalists. More significantly, Kallum Watkins limped off with a badly twisted ankle, whilst Carl Ablett and Ali Lauitiiti both have knee injuries to put their Wembley places in doubt.
Harlequins Dorn; Calderwood, O'Callaghan, Clubb, Melling; Sarginson, Gale; Ward, Randall, Temata, Purdham, Golden, Bailey. Substitutes used Ambler, Wilkes, Burnett, Bulger.
Leeds Webb; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Ablett, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Buderus, Kirke, Hauraki, Delaney, Clarkson. Substitutes used Smith, Burrow, Lauitiiti, Pitts.
Referee R Hicks (Oldham).