Saturday, 24th October 2015 @ 16:49
After last week’s win over Wasps, Harlequins were looking to start the season two from two but a late Leicester try denied the visitors a memorable victory as the home side held on to win 22-19.
The match was close right down to the final seconds as the opposing fly-halves traded penalties in the opening spell before Clifford went over for the Londoners to give them a 12-13 half-time lead.
Harlequins would then extend their lead after dominating for long periods in the second half only for Laurence Pearce to go over in the 72nd minute to see Tigers snatch a 22-19 win.
After a successful opening round at home last weekend Harlequins hit the road for the first time this season looking to build on last week’s performance. Their physicality carried over immediately as back row Mat Luamanu sent Seremaia Bai to the bench after a crunching hit up in just the fourth minute – replaced by Owen Williams. It was Leicester however that opened the scoring through a Tommy Bell penalty before Nick Evans struck back two minutes later.
Bell would knock over two more in quick succession to give Tigers a 9-3 lead after the first quarter but Harlequins stayed within touching distance with a penalty of their own. Neither team looking like scoring a try in a tight opening spell
The home side was cheered on by a boisterous crowd of 17,510 who made their voices heard during a long goal line stand before Jack Clifford barreled over from close. A much deserved try from the visitors. Evans converted and five minutes later Referee Thomas Foley blew his whistle for half-time with Quins leading 12-13.
The second spell began with Harlequins hot on attack, dominating possession in the early stages and they were rewarded with an Evans penalty and a 12-16 lead before Bell answered back with yet another of his own.
In the 49th minute the Harlequins coaching staff made five simultaneous substitutions including England players Danny Care, Nick Easter and Joe Marler – who all made immediate impacts. The latter joined Kyle Sinckler and Joe Gray in a new front row that both strengthened the scrum while being a key component in a rolling maul that would dominate the rest of the proceedings.
Evans banged home another penalty in the 55th minute giving them a 15-19 lead, and his 33rd point of the season so far, but Harlequins could not find themselves crossing the whitewash which would ultimately prove costly.
In the 70th minute Leicester were rewarded a penalty in their own half and Owen Williams (playing 75 minutes off the bench) put it within metres of the Quins line. Another replacement Laurence Pearce scoring from the resulting line out.
For the final eight minutes it was all Harlequins and they turned down a chance at a draw to put it in the corner. The maul once again working for Quins in drawing a yellow card for scrum-half Sam Harrison but a last ditch effort at the try line proved unsuccessful and Leicester held on to win 22-19.
A losing bonus point for Harlequins but they will be bitterly disappointed and believe they deserved more. Next Saturday another tough away trip beckons as they take on Bath at the Rec and Conor O’Shea’s men will be desperate for four points.
Harlequins return to The Stoop on Friday 6th November following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup. They take on Sale Sharks in Round 4 of the Aviva Premiership with tickets on sale now.