It was as the Scots say a dreich Saturday afternoon at Stevenson Park; the same could be said of the match as Harlequins took advantage of a yellow card to score 14 points and hold on to take their place in the Senior Cup quarter final.
Dungannon survived a woeful start but were kept from building any kind of offensive platform by a keen Harlequins XV. Centre Paul Kerr opened the scoring with a penalty after 25 minutes.
Dungannon did produce more cohesive play and were rewarded with a penalty attempt on 35 minutes that unfortunately drifted wide.
Following a warning to both captains from the referee about players keeping their discipline the Dungannon scrum half John Russell was the unfortunate recipient of a yellow when he intervened to stop an argument.
Harlequins then launched a sustained attack with the confidence of a team with a numerical advantage. Dungannon defended well but eventually Harlequins made use of the space out wide for winger Vereimi Aloisio to go over in the 41st minute. Kerr converted on the half time whistle, 0-10.
Dungannon started better in the second half but were pinned back when a penalty awarded to Quins on their ten metre line was launched well into the home 22. Quins got a decent drive from their lineout and after a second surge Aloisio showed good strength to complete his brace by forcing his was over from close range. Kerr again converted in the 46th minute, 0-17.
John Russell returned and Dungannon started to play rugby. A Sam Russell break caused panic in the Quins defence but disappointingly the support was not quite able to finish off the good work. Andrew McGregor sent Caolan Mulgrew off on a strong run before a period of sustained Dungannon pressure on the Harlequins line forced a drop out from beneath the posts. The kick was deflected slightly and another assault from Dungannon resulted in a try for the industrious Cameron Steenson. Andrew McGregor converted on 65 minutes.
Dungannon were now on top and a magnificent break by Stephen Todd took play deep into the Quins half. John Russell and Mulgrew kept up the forward momentum before Calvin Nelson almost made the line. Gannon attacked again through Mulgrew before Dungannon were awarded a penalty when a maul was pulled down. Andrew McGregor took a quick one and stepped neatly over the line for a try converted by Jordan McIlwaine on seventy minutes.
At 14-17 Dungannon were now back in the game.
This set up a potentially exciting last ten minutes. Quins broke up field and a promising move was stopped by a great Jordan McIlwaine tackle. Quins continued to attack and some poor decision making by Dungannon failed to alleviate the pressure. The Dungannon defence held well until young Quins prop, Stephen Hunter forced his way over to seal the issue in the 82nd minute. Kerr again converted.
Dungannon now have to regroup for the away Energia AIL game at Deramore this Saturday. There is not much between the teams, although Quins have won both games over the past month a step up in performance by Dungannon is all that is needed to claim the points in Belfast.
Dungannon:- Andrew McGregor. Aaron Nelson, Sam Russell, Peter Cashel, Caolan Mulgrew. Richard McGregor, John Russell. Ross Stewart, Daniel Mikolajczyk, James Gamble. Stephen Todd, John Joe Kane. Cameron Steenson, Calvin Nelson, Adam Milligan. Sean O’Hagan, Glen Sinnamon, Jack Weir. Jordan McIlwaine
Belfast Harlequins:- Jack Orr. Tom Morris, Paul Kerr, Kieran Tomlinson, Vereimi Aloisio. James McKinney (capt), Malcolm Corry. Stephen Hunter, Ted Linton, Jack Boal, Sean Shuttleworth, Paddy McAllister, Ross Bingham¸ Jaz Andress, Daryl Marshall. Mark McGrath, James Harrison, Callum Power, Luke Simms, Chris Larmour.