Harlequins moved into pole position to qualify for the LV= Cup semi-final stage after tries from Mark Lambert and Dave Ward helped them to a 23-6 victory over London Welsh.
Ben Botica converted prop Lambert’s try and kicked a penalty to send Quins in 10-6 at the break, Welsh having the first and last word on the opening 40 minutes through the boot of Alex Davies.
Botica, the 23-year-old New Zealander, kicked two further penalties in the second half before converting Ward’s try with five minutes to go.
The victory lifted Harlequins above Exeter, who were beaten by Bath, to the top of Pool 1 meaning victory over Ospreys next Sunday will ensure the London side a place in the final four.
After a scrappy opening in which both teams traded possession and showed their intentions to play a running game, Quins found space in the Welsh defence but breaks from Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Karl Dickson ultimately led to nothing.
When the visitors got their hands on the ball they earned a penalty, scrum-half Davies making it 3-0 after 14 minutes.
Harlequins struck back immediately though, gathering the re-start and after quick recycling spread the ball left to prop Lambert who touched down in the corner.
With 20 minutes gone Botica slotted a penalty to extend Quins’ lead to 10-3.
Welsh then enjoyed a good spell of play with fly-half Gordon Ross marshalling his backline well on his 100th appearance for the club but the home side’s defence stood firm and Davies’ penalty to make it 10-6 was Welsh’s only reward.
The visitors dominated the final ten minutes of the half without further reward and Quins could have crossed when they rumbled up the field only for wing Seb Stegmann to knock on ten metres out.
The second half was sparked into life by a great break from Quins No.8 Tom Guest and while he failed to find support on his shoulder he did earn a penalty which Botica slotted to make it 13-6 after 46 minutes.
Good covering defence prevented winger Nick Scott bagging a try for London Welsh after his own grubber kick down the left. From the resulting series of scrums five metres out from their own try line Quins were under pressure, but the superb Guest got them out of trouble.
Welsh seemed deflated after that failed effort and the next 15 minutes of the second half was all Harlequins. Botica added another penalty to make the score 16-6 and several line breaks followed.
In the end it was an overthrown lineout from replacement Welsh hooker Gareth Evans which led to the inevitable Harlequins try – Ward receiving it gratefully and diving over the line unchallenged and Botica converted to send the hosts top of Pool 1.