Harlequins withstood a spirited second half performance from Power House to seal third spot and a home qualifying final with a 20-17 win at a water-logged Albert Park on Saturday.
Quins had all the running early winning three penalties in the first five minutes. A much improved lineout effort from the away side set up consistent forward pressure and Mark Luafalealo crashed over off the back of a rolling maul for the first try of the match after seven minutes.
Power House replied with three points of their own through Josh Blanksby, but were on the back foot shortly after as a communication breakdown led to Quin’s centre Justin Marsters collecting a cross field kick unopposed to touch down next to the sticks. The subsequent conversion made the score 3-12 and a further penalty goal saw the lead stretched shortly after.
Some hard ball running up the middle of the park gave the home side much needed momentum as forward play began to dominate. Ball security was paramount in the conditions and House began to string together strong one-out phase play. The visitors managed to hold the ball up over the line once, but the inevitable try came shortly through the colossal Chris Aho.
The second half began in the same vein, with the home side camped in the opposition twenty two. They were unable to capitalise however, giving consecutive penalties away while in possession. A high shot on the Quins half back John Apula gave the visitors their first decent field position of the half and the number nine took a dart down the blindside to score in the corner, extending the lead to ten points.
Once again the House fought back through their imposing forward pack, camping themselves in the opposition half for the remainder of the game. They were unlucky not to score after the referee failed to play sufficient advantage following a Quin’s knock on. Eventually, after a dozen phases the pressure told and forward Michael Lanigan reached out and planted the ball under the sticks. The conversion made the score 17-20 and another nail biting finish was on the cards.
The home supporters were up in arms moments later after another try down the left flank was disallowed for an intentional knock on. House had a late chance to tie the game but opted to go for the win and were ultimately unsuccessful. They will have another chance next week in the qualifying final as they travel to Ashwood to avenge yesterdays result.
Melbourne and Moorabbin warmed up for the finals with big wins over over Southern Districts and Boroondara respectively; both sides have next week off. Footscray ended Box Hill’s faintest of finals sniffs with a tight 14-5 win at home, and Melbourne Uni finished a disappointing season on a high thumping Endeavour Hills 61-7.