Flutey calls the tune for Exiles
By Mark Townsend. Last Updated: 31/08/06 4:49pm
Guinness Premiership, Twickenham, Saturday, September 2
Newly-promoted Harlequins were undone by a last-gasp penalty from London Irish fly-half Riki Flutey as the Exiles ran out 20-19 winners at Twickenham.
The Quins looked to have snatched victory when Wales prop Ceri Jones went over with just seven minutes to play following a line-out drive.
Replays on the temporary big screen, however, showed that lock Simon Miall had dropped the ball and justice was served by Flutey in the last minute of the game.
Harlequins were ahead for much of the game, thanks to the boot of Adrian Jarvis who was called in as a late replacement for former New Zealand fly-half Andrew Mehrtens.
The number 10 landed a couple of penalties to give his side a 6-0 lead within the first 10 minutes but, with the wind in their faces, Brian Smith's side looked the more dangerous side.
And they almost grabbed a try when Flutey found a gap in the Quins defences but Mike Catt's pass just failed to find Delon Armitage on the touchline.
Harlequins have added to their ranks in the off-season and new centre pairing Hal Luscombe and Stuart Abbott combined well to almost send in Mike Brown but Armitage was round to cover well.
England international Abbott's next input was not so impressive as he was banished to the sin-bin after a late tackle on Paul Hodgson and Flutey reduced the arrears.
The first try came through Topsy Ojo after Brown dropped the ball on his own line and Armitage was first to the ball to set up Ojo who found a gap to cross the line in the corner and the teams went into the break at 9-8 to the Quins after Jarvis added a third penalty after number eight Juan Leguizamon was sent to the sin-bin for punching.
The lead became 12-8 with a fourth three-pointer from Jarvis after the interval.
But Smith's men reacted well and, after raising the tempo, went clear after two penalties from Flutey before the fly-half knocked over a drop goal following good work by the pack.
Jones then touched down to set up a dramatic climax and Flutey kept his nerve well after missing with his first effort but the second opportunity was sent straight through the posts.