Saturday, 28th December 2019 @ 16:30
Harlequins were pegged back by Leicester Tigers, finishing with 14 men, to be held 30-30 in a festive thriller at Twickenham in Big Game 12.
Quins took a 3-0 lead four minutes in, to set a packed Twickenham alight after a high tackle penalty against Leicester Tigers set Marcus Smith up from the boot in front of the posts.
The game took an unfortunate break and lost early Quins momentum whilst Michele Campagnaro received treatment, before the Italian centre was helped off by the Quins medical team to a supportive applause from the crowd - Gabriel Ibitoye came on in his place.
Moments later, Leicester added their first points of the match, with George Ford slotting the penalty to tie the game at 3-3 after nine minutes.
The game continued with velocity, with end to end action as both sides pushed for the line, but it was Leicester who took the lead with 15 minutes remaining of the first half, again through the boot of Ford who gave the visitors a 3-6 lead.
Just one minute later, Quins crossed the line, but it was touched down by a red Tigers shirt after a beautiful punt from Danny Care down the flank. From the resulting scrum, big centre Paul Lasike scored his first try for the Club after the American powered his way over. Marcus Smith’s conversion put Quins 10-6 ahead with less than 10 minutes remaining of the first half.
Five minutes later, Quins’ lead was extended after Marcus Smith slotted through the posts from the penalty to give Quins an encouraging 13-6 lead at the break.
Tigers opened the scoring in the second half after only four minutes, after a wayward offload landed in the hands of Kyle Eastmond who had the legs to run half of the pitch and place it down under the posts. After Ford’s conversion, the scores were tied at 13-13.
Quins responded immediately, with fast attacking play through the midfield and Elia Elia crossed the line but the ball was held up in the pile of bodies. From the resulting scrum, fly half Marcus Smith danced his way through the Tigers defence to touch down and bring Quins back in control. He converted his own try to give the home side a 20-13 advantage with 30 minutes to go.
And it wasn’t too long until Captain Chris Robshaw powered his way to five points after resilient play from Quins. After Smith’s conversion, it was 27-13 to Quins and only 25 minutes left on the clock.
Tigers responded five minutes later as Jordan Taufua crossed the line after a spell of attack for the visitors, who narrowed the score to 27-20.
Marcus Smith immediately responded with the three from the penalty to extend the lead and claim his 20th point of the match, giving Harlequins a 30-20 lead after 65 minutes. Quins lost Sinckler to injury, adding to Campagnaro and then Elia as the physical match took its toll.
George Ford followed up with another three points via a penalty to keep Tigers in touch, narrowing the gap to seven points moments later. Crucially Quins were then reduced to 14 men with 10 minutes left as Will Collier was given a yellow card after the scrum collapsed.
Tigers levelled the scores 30-30 with seven minutes to go after a click through from George Ford setting up full back Telusa Veainu to pick up on the run and touch down under the posts.
Quins put together a great spell of phase upon phase, driving closer to the Tigers line with the clock counting down. A knock on with just two minutes remaining lost the pressure and momentum the 14 men had been valiantly building. The crowd did their best to spur Quins on in the dying moments but as the clocked down to zero, the matched ended in a remarkable 30-30 draw.
Quins return to action on 3 Jan away against Sale and then to the Heineken Champions Cup at The Stoop on 18 Jan. Tickets are available at www.tickets.quins.co.uk