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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Harlequins silence Tigers' roar at the Twickenham Stoop

Last night saw a clash of the Titans as Harlequins welcomed Leicester Tigers to the Twickenham Stoop.

It was a game important to both the teams with the home side desperate for points, chasing a play-off place. For the visitors, the goal is to remain in the top four and push for a top two finish for a home advantage.

Tigers kicked off and immediately were awarded a penalty. Flood sent the ball between the posts and the visitors were already 3-0 up within the first minute.

Play resumed but was then put on hold whilst a debate ensued as to whether Quins were taken out on the air. The home side were awarded a penalty which Evans placed in touch for an attacking line-out. They kept possession, formed a maul and pushed forward but Tigers were awarded a scrum allowing Youngs to clear.

Both teams were keen to make an early impact but a fumble by Quins allowed Tigers to collect and break through the home side defence for a try. The TMO (Television Match Official) was called into play with a questionable forward pass but it was awarded and converted. Six minutes into the game and Leicester had increased their lead to 10 with no reply from the hosts.

Harlequins did pull three points back through the boot of Evans a minute later.

The home side attacked from the restart but a penalty went against them and Tigers kicked to the corner for an attacking line out. The pressure relieved momentarily as Leicester knocked on handing a scrum to Quins in front of their own posts. They managed to clear but not far as Quins sliced the kick back into touch.

Tigers recycled the ball really well but a thumping tackle handed Quins the put-in at a scrum as the ball spilled forwards.

This lead to a superb break by Quins, moving the ball out wide early and allowing Brown to make strides up the field. Unfortunately a chip over is collected and taken into touch by Leicester. The home side won the ball and continued to push but the try line remained ever distant. The fans began questioning refereeing decisions, to the point of chanting 'we want Barnes' - who for this game was the fourth official and who normally has requests to get off the field whenever he is at The Stoop.

Tigers earned a penalty, cleared into Quins' half and won their line-out. They kept pressing but Quins were equal to them, matching the attack with a very firm defence. A scrum followed by a penalty went the way of the hosts, who cleared into the visitors half.

Leicester came again and Brown made an important save, which would surely have ended in another 7 points to the visitors. Flood did add another three points to the Tigers' scorecard in 25th minute after Quins were ruled offside.

Within three minutes those points were cancelled out by Evans. Quins were awarded a penalty after Leicester came off their feet in the ruck. They sent the ball into touch for an attacking line-out in the visitor's half and were promptly awarded another penalty within kicking distance of the host's number 10.

The Tigers response was a relentless attack which was only halted through a forward pass. Quins had the put-in at the scrum and were later awarded a penalty after Leicester failed to release a tackled player. They sent play back to the other end of the field where Tigers were handed a scrum. They then earned a line-out just outside Quins' 22.

Leicester threatened once again but a penalty went the way of the home side after Tigers were ruled to have blocked play. Quins kicked the ball back into the visitors half for an attacking line-out. They crossed the try-line but it was deemed to have been held-up.

Undeterred the home side pressed forward again and were awarded a penalty try with 3 minutes left of first half. Evans added the conversion, bringing the scores level.

It was such a tense game and Conor O'Shea came to the touchline for the final minute of the half, where Tigers kicked into touch ending the first 40 minutes.

Half Time at The Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 13 - 13 Leicester Tigers

At the restart Harlequins gathered their own kick and pushed early but the chance was wasted when they attempted to kick through the defence, all to easily collected by the opposition. Tigers sent it into touch and Quins had a line-out still within the visitor's half.

Again, possession was short-lived as Leicester earned a penalty, opting to kick the ball into touch deep within Quins territory. Never shy of playing with ball in hand, the home side powered their way out of their own half and kicked for a well-placed line-out just 10 metres from the line.

Positive play from Quins saw them force a knock-on from Youngs. The scrum was just metres from the try line. Another wasted opportunity, however, as the home side were accused of failing to drive straight therefore handing Leicester a penalty.

They kicked for a line-out which they also gathered but Tigers are again penalised for blocking. Evans attempted a kick between the posts but pulled it wide of the uprights.

Despite the tense play there was a belief within the Twickenham Stoop that Leicester Tigers could be beaten.

Quins attacked again and a chip through sent both teams scurrying to the try line. Leicester's Scully versus Harlequins' Brown. Both dived for the ball and the referee chose to bring the TMO into play. The try was not given and the chant of 'you don't know what you are doing' echoed around the stadium.

The home-side were awarded a scrum on the 5 metre line and again made it over the try line. Still not given - this time it was held-up.

Another scrum to Quins who continued to progress towards the line until a pass out wide was intercepted by Tigers. Thankfully for the home fans, he was tackled early and so could not score a break-away try.

The ball made its way into the hands of Brown who again had the try line in his sight. He spilled the ball during a tackle handing a scrum to Leicester. Good work by the home side earned them a penalty. Evans went for the posts and pulled Quins into the lead for the first time this game 16-13 after 59 minutes.

From the restart Tigers pushed up the field quickly. They took a quick penalty and crossed the line. Quins were in the lead for less than a minute before the converted try put the visitors back on top 16-20.

Flood was then substituted.

Tempers really started to fray after a scrum was awarded to Leicester which was then upgraded to a penalty after Quins were accused of collapsing the scrum. In off-ball action Leicester's Matera was shown the yellow card for tackling Ward. Robson joined him in the sin-bin for coming to Ward's aid and retaliating.

Play continually changed sides and substitutions were made. Fa'asavalu came on in place of Wallace. Botica also came on in place of Evans at a time when Quins were awarded a penalty. Botica kicked to the corner - the home side needed the win and penalty kicks at this point just would not suffice.

They retained line-out ball, formed a maul, then sent it wide to Brown who crosses for a try. The conversion was unsuccessful but it gave them a one-point lead over Leicester with 8 minutes remaining.

The visitors then knocked on handing a scrum to Quins. Things then worsened for the visitors as their number 7 Salvi was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul, momentarily reducing Tigers to 13. Quins again kicked for a line-out in the corner.

Easter jumped well and secured the ball and when the subsequent maul collapsed. they send it out wide. A knock on handed a scrum to Leicester. With 5 minutes left, Robson and Matera returned to the field having fulfilled their 10-minute sin-bin.

The volume in the Twickenham Stoop was deafening.

A penalty was awarded to Leicester as Quins went off their feet in the ruck. They kicked for a line-out which was still within Tigers' territory. Things improved for the home side after they were themselves awarded a penalty off the back of the line-out. Botica kicked between the posts, increasing their lead to 4 points with just two minutes left.

It was very tense with a penalty being awarded to Leicester who took it quickly. The Quins defence were working very hard, overturned the ball and kicked it back into Leicester's territory. The visitors collected but knocked on, handing a vital scrum to Quins who did not mess around. Care fed the ball, it was hooked back, out to Care who passed it back to Botica. He in turn kicked it high into the stands to end the game.

14,800 supporters watched Harlequins take another big step forward to a play-off place, beating Leicester Tigers.

Full Time at The Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 24 - 20 Leicester Tigers

Danny Care was named Man of the Match.

NOTE: Following the premiership games today, 5th placed Harlequins trail 4th placed Leicester Tigers and third placed Bath by 6 points. There are a maximum of 10 points up for grabs for Quins - next in the premiership they are away to Exeter but have home advantage for their final game of the season against Bath.

Next week Harlequins are away to Northampton Saints in the Amlin Cup semi-final.
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 6:18 pm  

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