Monday, 17th December 2018 @ 21:30
A second half try from Billy Keast and the boot of Harvey Skinner saw Harlequins go down 13-17 to Exeter Braves at The Stoop.
Quins held a slender 10-7 lead at half-time as George Head cancelled out Onehunga Kaufusi's earlier score. Perfect with the boot all night, Demetri Catrakilis sent over a penalty to leave Quins in front as both sides went into the sheds.
In the second half, Braves clawed their way back into it and went through multiple periods of pressure.
Keast scrambled over on the 65th minute before Skinner moved Braves further in front with the penalty that was enough to win the contest.
In a tight but exciting first 40 minutes, it was the away side who contributed to the scoreboard first. Off a rolling maul from close range, back rower Kaufusi got himself over after Elvis Taione did well to make good metres off broken play.
The try kicked Quins into gear and from a similar position, a different outcome came as Harlequins turned Braves over at another close range maul.
With a quarter of the match played, Harlequins' only try came shortly after in similar circumstances to Exeter's. From a close range line out following a Catrakilis kick, George Head - in at hooker - did well to get himself over.
Quins managed to get their noses in front shortly after when Catrakilis sent over his second kick of the night; this time a long-range penalty and the three point gap was established.
The hosts finished the half strongly, after they pinched Exeter's line out ball and continued to ask questions of the visitors' defence in their own 22, however no further points were added when Referee Joe James brought the half to an end.
Harlequins continued where they left off from the end of the first half and looked to trouble the Exeter defence once more, the hosts settled for a kick at goal on 45 minutes and Catrakilis once again sent it over.
From there, the contest began to turn Exeter's way as the away side dominated possession in the second 40, particularly in Harlequins' 22.
Despite a valiant effort in defence and a scrum penalty, Braves continued to turn the screw and were rewarded at a crucial time in the contest. 65 minutes in and after waves of phases, loosehead Keast finally got across and Skinner added the extras.
After Harlequins were held up moments later, Skinner sent over his first penalty of the night to increase the gap to four with little over ten minutes on the clock.
The penalty seemed to breathe new life into Harlequins who looked to play off a clever Catrakilis chip kick, but when Ben Tapuai gathered and played in Calum Waters, Quins opted to kick again but Braves could gather and send it away.
Harlequins continued to fight until the end with a penalty sent long into Braves' 22, but when the hosts were turned over with two minutes left, Braves could run down the clock from the scrum to hand Quins their third successive defeat in the Premiership Rugby Shield.
Harlequins are back in Premiership Rugby Shield action when they face Bath United at Farnham RFC on Friday 28th December (kick-off 14:00). There will be no entry fee on the day for supporters, however Farnham will be charging for parking at the ground and for matchday programmes.