Friday, 3rd May 2019 @ 23:00
Quins secured a 23-19 victory against Leicester Tigers in the final game of the season at The Stoop and have moved back into the top four of the Gallagher Premiership.
Semi Kunatani’s powerful surge over the Tigers’ try-line late in the second-half proved the difference between the two sides.
Danny Care had crossed over in the opening stages of the night but Leicester edged their noses in front just before half-time following four George Ford penalties.
James Horwill was given a standing ovation as he walked off at The Stoop for one final time in a Quins’ shirt.
Similar to the atmosphere around the Stoop, the game started off in electric fashion, but the opening Quins attack was intercepted by the visitors and they progressed into the Quins’ half to win a penalty with just two minutes on the clock.
Ford kicked between the posts from ten metres inside Quins’ territory, in what would be a theme to come during the first-half.
Quins responded rampantly to the early set-back as Marcus Smith kicked to the corner after a penalty was awarded following great work from full-back Mike Brown. The resultant line-out was collected cleanly by the home side and they pushed their way towards the Leicester Tigers’ try-line.
A series of phases saw Quins edge nearer to the line and it was Care who marked his return to the starting line-up by squeezing across to score underneath a cluster of bodies. The conversion was added by Smith to cap off a perfect response to the Tigers’ early score.
Joe Marchant once again showed off his defensive capabilities with a number of great tackles to stop Leicester in their tracks, however referee Wayne Barnes judged Marchant to have tackled from an offside position shortly after the ten-minute mark and Ford kicked over to narrow Quins’ lead to a solitary point.
Smith replied from the kicking tee with a penalty of his own from close range following an attempted low through-ball kicked by Care which had the Leicester defence scrambling but couldn’t quite find its desired target in the incoming Charlie Walker on the right wing.
The first half proved to be an end-to-end affair as Ford kicked over another penalty before Jack Clifford was shown a yellow card due to a late tackle on the Leicester kicker with three minutes to go before the interval.
Quins defended admirably in an important moment in the game as Leicester pushed to make their numerical advantage count. Quins absorbed the Tigers’ offensive pressure well but the away side did manage to edge narrowly in front just before the half-time whistle as Ford kicked over his fourth penalty of the night to make the score 12-10 to Leicester at the break.
Quins came out firing in the second half and pressure from Walker forced Tigers into a mistake with a forward pass which saw Smith kick over from the tee to restore the lead.
Kunatani took to the field to replace the RPA Young Player of the Year nominee, Alex Dombrandt, and it was Kunatani who charged his way through the Tigers’ back-line and slid over to put significant distance between the two sides on the scoreboard with just over five minutes left on the clock. James Lang converted from underneath the posts after replacing Smith.
Leicester salvaged a late try of their own when the clock was in the red as Mike Fitzgerald forced his way over following a neatly taken line-out in the corner. Ford converted to confirm the final score as a 23-19 victory for Quins.