Tim Swiel’s late penalty saw Harlequins complete their second Anglo-Welsh Cup victory of the campaign with a hard-fought 15-12 comeback victory against Ospreys in St Helens.
The Welsh side took the lead early on as Tom O’Flaherty crossed within five minutes, but Quins fought back through George Naoupu 20 minutes later.
But a yellow card for Adam Jones saw the visiting defence stretched, with Ospreys taking advantage as Dafydd Howells gave his side a half-time lead.
But it was left to Quins to steal the show and the points, Charlie Matthews getting their second score of the evening before Swiel kicked the glory penalty with just seven minutes remaining.
That was despite Ospreys coming out of the blocks firing to get the first try, working the ball wide from a scrum on the Quins 22, allowing O’Flaherty to go down in the corner.
From there the majority of the possession belonged to Quins, though points remained at a premium as Ospreys escaped unscathed for the opening 20 minutes.
But the pressure eventually told as the Aviva Premiership Rugby side showed their scrimmaging prowess, allowing Naoupu to score from just a couple of metres out, levelling the game at 5-5.
And the visitors were not done there as Ospreys fumbled immediately from the restart, though a mistake from the boot denied a further sucker-punch in St Helens.
It looked set to be all-square heading into the break, but a yellow card for Adam Jones temporarily sent Harlequins down to 14 men, a numerical advantage the hosts took advantage of through Howells.
Once again the scrum proved the cause, this time electing to go left to wing Howells, making no mistake to dot down. Luke Price added the extras for the first successful kick of the evening.
That was to be the last meaningful action of the half, with Quins standing firm in a depleted defence, though John Kingston’s side entered the break 12-5 behind in Wales.
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But with Jones regaining the field, his side were able to hit the front foot, though Ruaridh Jackson missed a tricky penalty to keep the deficit at seven points.
And it seemed that would be the score heading into the final quarter, but some superb work through the phases saw Quins level up proceedings.
Coming from a line-out, the ball worked its way across the line, falling perfectly for Matthews to cross, allowing Swiel to kick the extra two points to make it 12-12 ahead of a potentially-dramatic last 20 minutes.
From there, the game was to be anyone’s, but it came down to the boot of Swiel to finally give Harlequins the lead – the first time they had been in that position in 73 minutes of rugby.
The fly-half executed the perfect kick from the tee with just a handful of minutes left on the clock, just rewards for another spell of pressure from the visitors.
But Steve Tandy’s side refused to give up without a fight, electing to kick a penalty to the corner in a valiant attempt at victory, but once again resolute Quins defence came to the fore as they held out for a narrow win.
The second round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup kicks off this weekend. For full details of the tournament and tickets for the Final at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 19 March see www.new-heroes.com