That moment of indiscipline, one of many, summed up the afternoon for Quins. But they made a real fight of it. Chris Sheasby's return to Wasps fell somewhat flat, although he was one of the stars of a characterful, if erratic, team.
There was a good deal more discipline from Wasps, especially earlier on, but it was Harlequins who appeared more expansive and inventive with the ball in hand. Gareth Rees punished practically every Quins misdemeanour; and the referee, Doug Chapman, stunned the visitors when he awarded a penalty try for pulling down a maul in the eighth minute.
That and Rees's boot opened up a substantial lead by the interval, even though Harlequins had hit back with a fine Rob Liley try. That had begun when the ex-Wasp Sheasby evaded the clutches of Lawrence Dallaglio and sparked off a move which traversed the pitch and culminated in Peter Mensah putting Liley in under the posts.
Nothing of that first-half performance by Quins gave any clue as to the events which were to take place in four breathtaking minutes of the second half. Wasps had just increased their lead with another Rees penalty when all hell, or rather, all Harlequins broke loose. The home side were hit for three tries in five minutes.
If the first, by Quins' Nick Walshe was a trifle fortunate - the combative scrum-half appeared to spill the ball as he crashed over from close range (the touch judge's intervention failed to convince the referee so the score stood) - there was no doubt about the other two.
Daren O'Leary scorched off, found Scott Stewart in support and Johnny Ngauamo provided the finishing touch. Minutes later and Wasps were on the ropes once more. This time it was like a 4x100m relay; first Sheasby hared away down the left, Ngauamo took over, then handed on to the bullet- headed Mensah before Dan Luger sprinted over the line. With Liley converting the last two, Wasps were suddenly trailing.
But Quins could not hang on to that lead. A fifth Rees penalty pulled Wasps round. They worked their way back into enemy territory and in piling on the pressure forced that final Quins error.
Wasps: Tries Penalty try, Green; Conversions Rees 2; Penalties Rees 5. Harlequins: Tries Liley, Walshe, Ngauamo, Luger; Conversions Liley 3.
Wasps: G Rees; L Scrase, N Greenstock, M Denney, S Roiser; A King, A Gomarsall (M Friday, 52); D Molloy, S Mitchell (T Leota, 37), W Green, S Shaw, D Cronin (A Reed, 52), L Dallaglio (capt), P Scrivener, M White.
Harlequins: S Stewart; D O'Leary (S Bromley, 74), J Ngauamo (J Keyter, 50), P Mensah, D Luger; R Liley, N Walshe (H Harries, 60); A Yates, K Wood (capt), J Leonard, B Davison, G Llewellyn, L Cabannes (G Allison, 56), C Sheasby, R Jenkins.
Referee: D Chapman (Scunthorpe).Reuse content