Wynand Olivier and GJ van Velze both struck in a Worcester Warriors first-half blitz as Dean Ryan’s men dented Harlequins’ top-four hopes at the Twickenham Stoop.
The Warriors claimed a third consecutive win for the first time since 2007 and now sit eight points clear of eleventh-placed Newcastle Falcons after Dean Richards’ men lost to Bath Rugby last night.
Olivier burst through some soft Quins defending to open the scoring for Ryan’s side and van Velze profited from Henry Cheeseman’s loose pass to run over for their second, while Quins could only reply through five Ben Botica penalties.
Conor O’Shea’s men remain two points behind fourth-placed Northampton Saints and face an uphill battle to clinch knockout rugby.
Botica opened the scoring for Quins after four minutes with a well-struck penalty after Worcester were penalised twice in quick succession.
The Warriors pack – dominant against Gloucester Rugby last weekend – outmuscled Quins at scrum-time and earned a penalty for the visitors with eight minutes gone, which Tom Heathcote made no mistake in converting.
Heathcote and Botica then traded penalties to leave the scores tied at 6-6 with 15 minutes gone.
Worcester grew into the game and set up camp in the Quins 22, throwing sharp off-loads, keeping pressure, building possession.
And after 19 minutes they broke down the Quins defence, showing great composure to shift the ball wide before in-form South African centre Olivier burst through a weak Ross Chisholm tackle to score. Heathcote’s conversion drifted well wide.
Botica, Karl Dickson and Mat Luamanu rallied for Quins but Worcester struck again when winger Cheeseman threw a loose pass before being bundled into touch.
Nick Schonert collected and fed van Velze who galloped in and Heathcote banged over the extras for an 18-6 lead with ten minutes left in the half.
A break from prop Kyle Sinckler led to a Quins penalty and allowed Botica to reduce the deficit to 18-9 just before half-time.
Botica had a chance to strike the first blow of the second-half, but his long-range effort was off-target.
Both teams grafted hard without having any impact on the scoreboard, Dave Ward was his usual explosive self making a good break before Worcester won possession and Charlie Walker had to make a last-ditch tackle deep in Quins territory.
With 15 minutes remaining, Quins’ pack began to get the upper-hand at scrum-time and Botica dragged Quins back into contention with a penalty five metres from the touchline after good work from the front-row.
Heathcote’s fine afternoon continued and he struck back with a long-range penalty of his own, but Botica hit back immediately for Quins to leave the score at 21-15 with six minutes remaining before missing a final attempt.