There was no dream return to London Irish for Peter Richards after his sojourn with England at the World Cup as Harlequins recorded their second win over the Exiles this season.
Richards – facing his former club on a wet afternoon at the Madejski Stadium that must have seemed a million miles away from the Stade de France– was left to rue two disallowed Irish tries in a narrow defeat.
Irish came out looking to build on their victory over the Premiership leaders, Gloucester, last weekend and started well. Jeremy Staunton missed a chance to open the scoring with a penalty that sailed right of the posts after the Quins lock James Percival was shown a yellow card for pulling down a maul.
The hosts then thought they had scored when their No 8, Phil Murphy, went over in the corner but the referee, Roy Maybank, had spotted an obstruction in the build-up.
Murphy, however, was not to be denied. Three minutes later he took advantage of an overlap on the Irish left to slide over in an almost identical position.
Staunton missed the conversion and Irish continued to press, but failed to capitalise on their possession. They were punished on the half hour when a break by the Quins open side, Will Skinner, took the visitors to the five-metre line. From the scrum, the No 8 Chris Hala'ufia crashed over and Adrian Jarvis added the conversion to take them into an unlikely lead.
Delon Armitage took over kicking duties for Irish and replied with a 40-metre penalty but Jarvis was equally accurate from similar distance on the stroke of half-time to give Quins a 10-8 lead.
Jarvis missed from even further out at the start of the second half and then the referee came to Quins' rescue again, an Irish scrum penalised for an early shove after Richards scampered over.
Armitage was unsuccessful with his second shot at goal just before the hour and the game became disjointed for the following 10 minutes amid a flood of replacements from both sides.
Chris Malone, on for Jarvis, was next to try his luck at goal only for his effort to bounce off the right-hand post, the last scoring attempt from either side.
Tries: London Irish: Try P Murphy; Penalty D Armitage. Harlequins: Try Hala'ufia; Conversion Jarvis; Penalty Jarvis.
London Irish: Curran; Ojo, D Armitage (Hickey, 65), Mordt, De Vedia; Staunton, Richards (Fury, 79); D Murphy (Warren, 57), Paice (Mackie, 40), Lea'aetoa, Kennedy (Johnson, 57), Casey, Roche ( Danaher, 57), S Armitage, P Murphy (Thorpe, 55).
Harlequins: Strettle; Keogh, Barry, Masson, Monye; Jarvis (Malone, 55), Care; Brooks, Brooker (Fuga, 55), Ross, Percival, Spanghero, Volley (Guest, 55), Skinner, Hala'ufia.
Referee: R Maybank (Kent).Reuse content