Parker Pen Cup final: Sending-off sets up injury-time thriller as replacement strikes to put Quins in the big league

Keogh opens the door to paradise

Montferrand 26 Harlequins 27

Harlequins were reunited with their favourite pen-pal yesterday, adding a riveting postscript to a letter that had French written all over it. Montferrand were in complete control and threatening to increase their lead in the dying stages when they fell on their sword.

If it's the Madejski Stadium and the final of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup, it must be Quins. Three years ago they beat Narbonne in extra time, and yesterday they applied the coup de grâce with the final move of the match. The stadium clock was showing 80 minutes and 46 seconds when Simon Keogh rounded off Quins' best attack of the day to score at the posts. Andy Dunne's conversion completed the most improbable victory by a goal, a try and five penalties to two goals, three penalties and a drop goal.

While the London club celebrated their return to the Heineken Cup by soaking up the champagne, Montferrand's players, or at least some of them, were in tears. Next season Montferrand will again be consigned to Europe's second tier, and they have only themselves to blame.

They had regained the lead at 26-20, and after Gerald Merceron failed with two drop-goal attempts, either of which would have been the winner, they were driving remorselessly towards the Quins line when Raphael Chanal lost his head.

The centre, who was wearing 13, had already been shown a yellow card in the 62nd minute for punching Tani Fuga. On that occasion Quins failed to make any capital gains while Chanal was in the sin-bin, but he gave them another chance.

In the 78th minute Chanal dived recklessly into a ruck and the referee, Nigel Whitehouse, alerted to the offence by a touch judge, dealt the Frenchman another yellow, which was automatically converted into a red. Chanal tossed away his headband, and ultimately the match.

From the penalty, Quins were able to find an attacking position and for once kept the ball alive in a move that featured their danger men, George Harder and Ugo Monye, the latter slipping the match-winning pass to Keogh. Dunne screamed at the replacement centre to touch down under the posts.

"We are not the most talented side and we don't have the most firepower but we're fit, we have a great spirit and we refuse to give in," Mark Evans, the Quins coach, said. "You can go a long way on that. I wasn't thinking about next season's Heineken Cup but about winning this competition as a reward for a group of players who have worked really hard.''

About a third of the team are leaving or retiring, including, of course, the prop Jason Leonard. The world's most capped player came off the bench in the 72nd minute to join what looked like a lost cause in his last appearance for a club he joined 14 years ago.

The Parker Pen Challenge Cup may not have the same ring as the Webb Ellis Trophy but Leonard, a World Cup winner with England in Australia, was suitably chuffed nonetheless. Last night at a party at the Stoop he was able to down as many pints as he liked with a clear conscience. "Your last game is always special,'' he said, "but what was really great was to see everyone's reaction at the end. It was breathtaking.''

Almost as breathtaking as the manner of victory. Paul Burke, who is leaving for Munster, kicked four penalties to keep Quins in touch but otherwise had a poor game, and when he fluffed a kick in front of the posts on the hour he was replaced by Dunne.

Quins held an early lead when Gavin Duffy, following a cross-kick by Will Greenwood, exploited a fumble by Sebastien Kuzbik for a try after 17 minutes. The Montferrand forwards took a stranglehold and they hit the front when Olivier Azam was driven over in an unstoppable rolling maul.

Even when the flanker Marc Raynaud got a yellow card in the 24th minute, Quins were unable to make an impression against a side who repeatedly sent their forwards crashing down narrow channels. They took some stopping, and when the scrum-half Pierre Mignoni was the beneficiary of another powerhouse party-piece, it looked as if the inkwell had run dry for Quins.

However, never underestimate the French capacity for indiscipline. Quins didn't. "Montferrand concede an inordinate number of yellow and red cards,'' Evans said. "We talked about it, although we didn't go out there with the intention to niggle them.

"They are always likely to do something daft, and Chanal is a loose cannon. We knew he was a liability and I'm surprised they picked him. To beat us you've got to play for 80-odd minutes, and we have a habit of nicking games at the death.'' All in all it was quintessentially French, quintessentially Quins.

Montferrand 26 Harlequins 27
Tries: Azam, Mignoni; Tries: Duffy, Keogh
Cons: Flosch 2; Con: Dunne
Pens: Flosch 3; Pens: Burke 4, Dunne
Drop: Merceron

Half-time: 16-14 Attendance: 13,123

Montferrand: A Flosch; A Rougerie, R Chanal, T Marsh (capt), S Kuzbik (S Viars, 59); G Merceron, P Mignoni; C Soulette (L Emanuelli, 72), O Azam, D Attoub, H Louw (E Pearce, 50), T Privat, M Raynaud, E Vermeulen (A Audebert, 50), O Magne.

Harlequins: G Duffy; G Harder, W Greenwood, M Deane (S Keogh, 55), U Monye; P Burke (A Dunne, 61), S Bemand; M Worsley (C Jones, 61), T Fuga, J Dawson (J Leonard, 72), S Miall, J Evans (B Davison, 67), P Sanderson, T Diprose, A Vos (capt).

Referee: N Whitehouse (Wales).

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker