Heineken Cup: Harlequins battle past Connacht
Last Updated: 22/10/12 8:28am
Nick Easter charges forward during Harlequins' win over Connacht at the Sportsgrounds
Harlequins have gone clear at the top of Heineken Cup Pool 3 after a 30-22 victory over Connacht in Galway.
The English champions missed out on a place in the knock-out stages on the same ground last season but gained a measure of revenge against a fired-up Connacht side.
Both sides played plenty of attacking rugby with ball-in-hand but ultimately it was Quins' superiority up front and dominance of the gain-line which proved the difference.
Ben Botica - standing in for the injured Nick Evans - edged Harlequins ahead as they dominated the opening exchanges before Connacht scored a try out of the blue, with Dan Parks firing a long pass for Dave McSharry to arrive on a superb attacking line, burst through the defence and race under the posts.
Parks converted but Botica quickly cut the deficit to a point and added another penalty, although it was Connacht who were moving the scoreboard on a regular basis.
Four times they ventured into the Quins 22 and four times Parks kicked penalties to give the hosts a handy lead at 19-9.
But the last 10 minutes of the half turned the game on its head. From a scrum in front of the posts, Danny Care showed quick thinking and even quicker feet to scoot from the base and score unopposed.
Three minutes from the interval off quick lineout ball, Mike Brown's break sucked in defenders, Nick Easter burst up the middle and when the ball was recycled, Care sniped over from a metre out.
Another Botica penalty edged Quins 24-19 ahead at the break and the second half was all about control from the English champions.
They barely gave Connacht a sniff of a chance and although Parks knocked over his sixth kick from six attempts, two more Botica penalties kept Quins at arm's length and even denied Connacht a bonus point that was the very least their efforts deserved.