Planet Rugby

Mehrtens signs off in high style

28th April 2007 17:12

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Andrew Mehrtens

Mighty Quin: Mehrtens signs off from action in superb style

Andrew Mehrtens inspired Harlequins to a commanding 37-0 victory over Sale in the last weekend of the Guinness Premiership on Saturday, bagging a full house of scores in the process.

The former New Zealand fly-half, playing his final match for the club on his 34th birthday, turned in a virtuoso performance at Twickenham Stoop.

Showing no signs of the knee and hamstring problem which have limited him to only nine appearances in his last season, he finished with 24 points.

Mehrtens contributed a full set of scores with a try, five conversions, two long-range penalties and a drop goal.

The victory also provided a fitting send-off for Andre Vos, the 32-year-old ex-South Africa flanker who is retiring following his 139th game for the club.

He took the man-of-the-match award with a performance which makes retirement look a somewhat premature decision.

Mel Deane, the 32-year-old centre who is leaving for Irish side Connaught in the summer, also joined the farewell celebrations when he scored Quins' third try in the 34th minute.

While former international stars Mehrtens and Vos are bowing out, Mike Brown underlined his potential as an England player of the future.

The 21-year-old full-back enhanced his growing reputation and staked his claim for a place on this summer's tour to South Africa, for which England will be without players from Heineken Cup finalists Leicester and Wasps.

Brown showed his pace to score two excellent first-half tries. His first came in the 12th minute when he grabbed an interception on the halfway line and outpaced the Sale defence on a 55-metre dash to touch down.

Two minutes before half-time Brown struck again, overlapping down the right touchline to score in the corner after taking a pass from scrum-half Andy Gomarsall.

Gomarsall has played a big part in the revival which has seen Harlequins finish seventh after losing their opening five league matches following promotion.

Sale, who rested several experienced players in order to play their youngsters, rarely threatened to turn the tide as Quins, 23-0 ahead at the interval, continued to pile up the points.

Following Deane's try, Mehrtens took a pass from Gomarsall to cross for their fourth try following a spell of forward pressure on the visitors' line.

Mehrtens had still not finished, providing the pass for heavyweight prop forward Ceri Jones to go in unchallenged for his side's fifth try in the 68th minute.

Jones forced his way over again five minutes before the end but this time Mehrtens was off-target with the conversion - his first miss of the afternoon.

Despite Mehrtens's performance, Quins boss Dean Richards insisted the club had no second thoughts about releasing the star.

Injuries have restricted Mehrtens to just nine matches this season and director of rugby Richards feels it is time to move on.

"It was his 34th birthday today - he isn't getting any younger and we haven't had him as often as we would have liked this season," said Richards.

"You saw today what he offers when he plays but we have made our decision."

The scorers:

For Harlequins:

Tries: Brown 2, Deane, Mehrtens, Jones 2

Cons: Mehrtens 5

Pens: Mehrtens 2

Drop Goal: Mehrtens

The teams:

NEC Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Tosh Masson, 12 Mel Deane, 11 Simon Keogh, 10 Andrew Mehrtens, 9 Andy Gomarsall, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Paul Volley (c), 6 Andre Vos, 5 Jim Evans, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Tani Fuga, 1 Ceri Jones.

Replacements: 16 James Hayter, 17 Ricky Nebbett, 18 Simon Miall, 19 Will Skinner, 20 Chris Hala'Ufia, 21 Steve So'oialo, 22 Ugo Monye.

Sale Sharks: 15 Julien Laharrague, 14 Oriol Ripol, 13 Elvis Seveali'i, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Selorm Kuadey/Steve Hanley, 10 Rhys Jones, 9 Ben Foden, 8 Chris Jones, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Chris Day, 4 Dean Schofield (c), 3 Ben Evans, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Eifion Roberts.

Replacements: 16 Barry Stewart, 17 Martin Halsall, 18 Marc Jones, 19 Sean Cox, 20 David Tait, 21 David Blair, 22 Mark Taylor.

Referee: David Rose

Touch judges: Paul Dickens, Steve Savage

Television match official: Bob Ockenden

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