Salford 28 Harlequins 29: Paul seals last-minute victory for Harlequins

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The Independent Online

A drop goal from Henry Paul 40 seconds from time brought Harlequins a precious and dramatic victory at The Willows last night. Paul, in only his fourth game back in rugby league, sized up the chance and kept his nerve for the crucial points that takes his side up to eighth place in Super League, seven points clear of one of his former clubs, Wigan.

"There was a call to go for it if we got close enough," Paul said afterwards. "I just put my head down and swung. It wasn't pretty, but it just bobbled over." His coach, Tony Rea, would beg to differ. " I thought it was beautiful," he said.

Harlequins had to show their battling qualities in a memorable game. With four minutes to play, they were trailing by six points when Pat Weisner and Michael Worrincy opened up the Salford defence for Weisner to score. Rob Purdham landed the conversion and the stage was set for Paul.

Danny Williams had put Harlequins ahead by diving on to Paul's clever kick, before Stuart Littler then put Salford ahead with two well-taken tries, both set up by Andrew Dunemann. Solomon Haumono announced his arrival from the bench with one driving run and then scored with his second carry.

With Lee Hopkins also going in before half-time, the Londoners were in a strong position, but Malcolm Alker's break and Ian Sibbit's finish brought Salford level. Littler's third, again from Dunemann's pass put them ahead, before Mark McLinden's remarkable strength got him over in the corner. When Gareth Haggerty touched down, it looked like being the scruffiest try ever to win a Super League game.

But Harlequins and their latest recruit had other ideas. "Henry's class at the end was the crucial factor," said Rea, whilst his Salford counterpart, Karl Harrison called it: "a game we had won three times".

Salford: Myler; Stewart, Littler, Moule, Hodgson; Dunemann, Robinson; Rutgerson, Alker, Highton, Coley, Sibbit, Finnigan. Substitutes used: Charles, Langi, Haggerty, Clayton.

Harlequins: McLinden; Bradley-Qalilawa, Luisi, Gafa, Smith; Paul, Dorn; Williams, Randall, Tookey, Hopkins, Purdham, Mbu. Substitutes used: Haumono, Mills, Weisner, Worrincy.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

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