Friday, 10th October 2014 @ 23:30
Kick off 13:00
Kick off 15:00
Kick off 15:00
Kick off 15:00
Kick off 13:00
On a wet evening, making handling conditions incredibly difficult for both sides, Harlequins struggled to maintain possession and were unable to play their preferred open style of rugby.
As the rain hammered down, Freddie Burns and Leicester’s back-line kicked for territory throughout the match pinning Harlequins back in their own half with unforced errors from both sides leading to a very stop start game.
A try from Blaine Scully in the fourth minute and penalties from Owen Williams kept Leicester ticking over as Harlequins were chasing the game from early on.
Karl Dickson, who replaced Danny Care at scrum-half, after his partner gave birth to a baby boy early on Friday morning, scored the only Quins try bringing the score line to within six points in the last ten minutes, but it was too little too late as Quins failed to make up the deficit.
The match kicked off at high pace with both sides getting into their rhythm. In the opening minutes, the ball was spilled by Mike Brown on half way in the slippery conditions. Leicester recycled the ball and found space down the right hand side of the pitch with Jamie Gibson off-loading to Scully who slithered out of a tackle from Luke Wallace to finish off under the posts. Williams converted to put the score at 7-0 to the Tigers.
As Harlequins worked the ball in Leicester’s half, the Tigers were penalised for not rolling away and Evans got Quins’ first points on the board, slotting over the kick.
High kicks were exchanged by the fullbacks as both sides tried to find a territorial advantage. Back in open play Harlequins were penalised at scrum time, and were punished by Williams who kept the score board ticking over for the hosts at 10-3.
After a Quins line-out on Leicester’s 10 metre line, Leonardo Ghiraldini was penalised for pulling down the maul and Evans kicked his second of the night, making the score 10-6.
After another successful penalty kick from Williams on 17 minutes, Mike Brown missed the ball in the air which conveniently bounced into the arms of Vereniki Goneva. As the winger made a dash for the try line in the left hand corner Matt Hopper latched on to the Fijian and bundled him into touch centimetres from the white wash leading to an eventual clearance from Dickson.
On the half hour, Gibson was penalised for tackling the man in the air with Evans putting his attempt wide, Williams then missed a chance of his own.
In the last five minutes of the half, Chris Robshaw was penalised for being offside at the ruck to the right of the posts, allowing Williams to slot over an easy kick, making the score going into half-time, 16-6 to Leicester.
George Lowe came on for the second half making his first senior appearance since September last year.
Evans kicked further points for Quins after Prop Michele Rizzo was penalised in the scrum, bringing the score back to within seven points at 16-9.
Soon after, Leicester’s fast kick chase, present throughout the match, put Quins under huge pressure in their own 22, with Aseli Tikoirotuma taking a high ball only to then be penalised for holding on. Williams stepped up and increased the Tigers lead to 19-9 after 46 minutes.
With both teams finding it difficult to establish momentum due to the poor conditions and knock-ons, Leicester’s attack was snuffed out after Julian Salvi stole the line-out ball only for Williams to pass into touch in the resulting phases, metres from Quins’ try line.
Leicester’s inside centre Williams then missed a kick 47 metres out with 20 minutes remaining, effectively keeping Quins in the game.
On 65 minutes, Williams found his kicking boots again edging the match away from the visitors with the score at 22-9.
However, Quins will never die wondering. Entering Leicester’s half, the ball was recycled quickly and the strength of the forwards showed as they kept advancing over the gain line. With Kyle Sinckler being used as a battering ram and the momentum with Quins, their true style came out.
In the 70th minute, Brad Thorn shoulder barged Dave Ward off the ball, leading to a penalty which Evans kicked to the corner. Quins continued to build the pressure, going through the phases until Dickson went himself and scrambled over the try line to the right of the posts, converted by Evans.
In the last ten minutes, with the score at 22-16, Harlequins’ late comeback was extinguished by Leicester maintaining possession and kicking to the corner as the rain continued to fall.
Harlequins open their European campaign at The Stoop on Friday evening against Castres Olympique.
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