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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Harlequins fail to tame Tigers at the Twickenham Stoop

A tantalising fixture awaited the fans at the Twickenham Stoop last night when Leicester Tigers travelled to Harlequins.

Just six points separated the two teams heading into round 16 of the English Premiership; Harlequins in 6th place behind Tigers.

The hosts were looking for a positive outcome from this clash, having lost away to Bath last week. They were looking to keep their 100% home record in the premiership this season.

Tigers were also looking to continue their winning run after an impressive victory at home to Bristol.

The atmosphere is always piqued at the Twickenham Stoop when playing under the floodlights and last night was an emotional experience with 1-minute applause in memory of Seb Adeniran-Olule, Harlequins player who passed away last year.

As the fans took their seats, Nick Evans kicked off proceedings. Leicester were forced to clear from their own 22, finding touch. Buchanan aimed for Matthews in the line-out but it was not caught cleanly, still landing in the hosts’ hands. Quick hands were just too quick for Buchanan who found himself on the near wing – the ball passing just in front of him, his fingertips knocking-on.

First scrum of the game went to the Tigers and after a re-set, the visitors were awarded a penalty. Their fly-half Burns found touch just inside the Quins’ half but the host defence would not let them pass easily. Burns was forced to send the ball high and Quins came away with possession.

A momentary game of football ensued before Quins got distance on a kick into touch.

Leicester secured line-out ball on the half-way line and started to drive forward. Their tight head prop Bateman broke through a sleeping defence but eventually the forward motion was brought to a stop. Quins overturned possession and kicked long.

Following a chase for the ball, the referee penalised Harlequins and Burns once again kicked for a line-out, this time just outside the hosts’ 22.

Tigers came away with possession but spilt it forward under tackle. Fancy footwork gave Quins time to place the ball over the whitewash in Tiger’s 22.

The visitors secured the ball and attacked the defence. Strong and fast tackles forced Tigers to kick. It was gathered well by the hosts but a long kick failed to find touch and landed safely in the hands of the visiting fallback.

Play was halted briefly for treatment to Leicester’s no.8 but resumed with a scrum to Harlequins. Possession was short-lived as the hosts were penalised – Adam Jones being the guilty party.

A maul formed following the latest line-out for Leicester but the tackles came in thick and fast. Bateman again found the weakness in the Quins’ defence but a thumping tackle eventually halted his run to the line. He was then penalised for holding on to the ball allowing the hosts to clear their lines.

Quick hands from the hosts brought life to the fans who were by now frustrated with the constant kicking-away of possession. Alofa Alofa however lost his footing whilst attempting to side-step around the defence and Tigers closed ranks. Scrum-half Mulchrone recycled the ball but possession was again kicked away – the fallback calling the mark in the 22.

The hosts were penalised in the impending line-out, dangerous play, allowing Burns to line up the posts for the first points of the game: Harlequins 0 – 3 Leicester Tigers after 17 minutes.

The restart was kicked long; Burns sent it high but Marland Yarde was penalised for a push, handing yet another kick and line-out to the visitors.

This time Harlequins successfully disrupted the line-out and stole possession, then earned themselves their own line-out following a penalty.

Buchanan threw straight but it was intercepted. Tigers kicked away possession to Morris who attempted to keep ball in hand. A delayed pass from Lambert caused a nervous moment as it was heading into touch, miraculously kept in play by Alofa Alofa.

Once again inaccurate passing slowed the attack and allowed the visitors to regroup. They stole possession but kicked it away to clear their lines.

Scrum to Harlequins just inside the opposition half.

The ball came out to Alofa Alofa on the wing and recycled back inside. First opportunity for points for the hosts after Tigers were penalised for failing to roll away and release a tackled player.

Evans got Quins off the mark: Harlequins 3 – 3 Leicester Tigers after 24 minutes.

Quins had found the fight they needed as Morris made strides through the defence; Chisholm continued the run and chipped through for a chase. Heads were in hands as the ball looked to be too heavy, heading for touch. Instead the ball bounced off the corner flag staying in play and allowing Alofa Alofa to add the downward pressure for the first try of the game.

In a show of bad form, Leicester’s captain Barrow walked out of the line whilst Evans was preparing his conversion. The flyhalf, however, was too experienced to allow anything to put him off: Harlequins 10 – 3 Leicester Tigers after 28 minutes.

Morris came again with the ball following the restart and kicked it on in an attempt to chase. Potential obstruction from Tigers went unnoticed by the touch judge much to the annoyance of the fans however the visitors kicked away possession. Yarde returned with the ball but a high tackle brought a momentary end to proceedings whilst the medics ensured all was well.

Evans kicked for touch but the play came to nothing. Tigers were awarded a scrum. They retrieved the ball quickly, kicked it long but only into the waiting arms of Morris who ran it back and sent it high. Despite a bad slice, the fallback was able to gather his own kick and kept the forward motion going.

Tigers stole possession and were then awarded a penalty still within their own half. They kicked for a line-out on the hosts’ 22. Meanwhile play was again halted as Evans required treatment. A sign came from the medics and Evans left the field for Jackson with just 8 minutes to play of the first half.

Evans received a standing ovation from the fans as disappointment was clearly etched on his face.

A replacement, too, for Tigers as their loose head prop Genge left the field for Brugnara (temporary blood replacement).

Quins were defending high-up the field, acting quickly on any movement from the opposition. It paid off as Leicester spilt the ball.

This time the scrum was successful for the hosts but possession was kicked safely into the waiting arms of the Tiger’s fallback Veainu. A high-ball from their scrum-half travelled little distance but still ended up in their possession.

The referee however halted play for a neck grab, penalising the visitors. Jackson kicked for a line-out just outside the opposition 22. A superb take in the line-out for Quins allowed them to form a rolling maul. Penalty to the hosts and Jackson lined up the posts.

Harlequins 13 – 3 Leicester Tigers with less than 2 minutes of the first half remaining.

The restart was kicked long, gathered, then placed in touch just inside the hosts’ half. The line-out was taken well by Leicester who ran with the ball. A spill forward gave possession to Quins however it was once again kicked away, allowing the opposition to come again.

Penalty was awarded to the visitors as the clock counted down. Burns was setting up his kick when the referee asked him to take it back to the 22. Burns pulled the kick wide of the posts.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 13 – 3 Leicester Tigers

The fans were full of voice as the two teams remerged onto the pitch for the second half.

Fitzgerald gathered the restart ball for the visitors but a knock-on handed a scrum to Harlequins just outside their own 22.

The scrum held firm and the ball was placed into touch just inside the half-way line.

Tigers kicked high but it was gathered well by Morris, fed back to Jackson following a ruck and he kicked the ball into the arms of the waiting Tigers just outside the half.

Tigers ran it back and pressured the try-line. Buchanan made a try-saving tackle just short of the line but the visitors recycled well with their scrum-half getting over the line.

Burns added the conversion and just 5 minutes into the second half the visitors closed the gap: Harlequins 13 – 10 Leicester Tigers.

Morris was superb with gathering the high ball under pressure. In a moment of madness Hopper failed to dislodge players in the ruck legally and handed the opposition a free kick. They placed the ball in touch for a line-out on the hosts’ 22.

Tigers Mermoz attempted a dummy pass but Adam Jones was well aware of the deception, grabbing hold of his shirt and bringing him down while the defence reformed.

Tigers recycled well and it seemed to be only a matter of time before they would score again with so many missed tackles.

Another penalty to the visitors in the 22 and they opted for a line-out. Their Hooker McGuigan found his mark; advantage to the visitors who made a cross-field kick. Morris chased the ball but took out the attacking player (Thompstone) in the air. The referee discussed the incident with the touch judge and a yellow card was shown. Morris was lucky not to see red.

Penalty-try awarded. Burns successfully kicked the conversion: Harlequins 13 – 17 Leicester Tigers with 28 minutes remaining.

The noise from the stands had died down as the game was slipping away. Quins were attacking but gave away another penalty as Thompstone was replaced by Williams for a Head Injury Assessment.

The hosts were unsuccessful in their attempt to steal line-out ball. Momentum had shifted to the Tigers who were once again awarded advantage then penalty. After a long huddle, they opted for the posts.

Burns was successful: Harlequins 13 – 20 Leicester Tigers with 23 minutes remaining.

Jackson got play underway again but shocking defence allowed Tigers to get just short of the half-way line before a successful tackle was made. They sent the ball to the wing and crossed into the 22.

Lambert was penalised for not rolling away and Burns kicked for touch just metres from the try-line.

Leicester found their man in the line-out and passed the ball quickly to the centre. It came back to the wing but straight into touch.

This was still dangerous territory for the hosts who had not been very successful with their set-pieces that night.

Their scrum, however, stayed true and earned Harlequins a penalty. They found touch as Morris re-joined play having served his sin-bin.

Just as things were looking up for the hosts, winning their line-out, lacklustre passing saw Burns intercept and cross for a try. Leicester’s scrum-half Harrison was replaced as Williams lined-up the posts, successfully adding the conversion: Harlequins 13 – 27 Leicester Tigers.

Buchanan made way for Gray with 16 minutes remaining.

In a rare error from the visitors, they kicked the ball straight into touch handing a line-out to Harlequins inside the opposition half. Penalty to the hosts and scrum-half Mulchrone took it quickly. Attacking play was short-lived as he was then penalised for holding on. Yarde managed to keep the ball in play, avoiding another set-piece, but they struggled to run it out of their own half.

Morris then kicked long to the anger of the fans and after a period of football, Tigers sliced the ball into touch. Quins won the line-out and earned a penalty as the man in the air was not brought down safely. They kicked for a line-out, secured the ball and passed to the centre. Another penalty to the hosts (Smith was penalised).

Again they kick for touch. Gray found his mark but the ball was not secured.

With just 10 minutes left to play, Harlequins made a triple substitution: Jones, Luamanu and Hopper made way for Shields, Naoupu and Walker.

The hosts were penalised in the ensuing scrum and Tigers sent play up to the half-way line. The visitors secured the ball in the line-out, kicked along the wing but gathered well by Morris.

A misplaced kick handed another line-out to Leicester in Quins’ half. This time the hosts stole possession but struggled to get out of their own 22.

Marchant slipped though a tackle to give the hosts momentum. Great hands kept the fast pace heading towards the line. Morris then became isolated and kicked for a chase; Tigers winning the race.

Quins won their line-out, formed a maul and advantage was being played. Quins chipped through but it was easily gathered. The referee went back for the penalty and Jackson placed the ball in touch. They found their mark at the front of the line and sent the ball to the centre. Another penalty and they once again kicked for the corner.

They found their man, formed a maul but at its collapse they had to pass. Tigers defended well and Quins slowed down their own ball. They were being pushed backwards and from gracing the try-line to almost getting out of the 22, the final attacking play was lacklustre at best.

Quins kept recycling the ball but momentum was lost. Yarde tried to up the pace and earned another penalty. Another kick to the corner and another line-out. Ball secured, maul formed.

It was a repeat of the last play with the maul collapsing and the ball being passed to the centre. Another penalty – yellow card for Tigers after time had counted down.

The line-out was permitted; a maul formed and they finally powered over. Captain Dave Ward was awarded the try.

A successful conversion would earn Harlequins a losing bonus point. As the stadium went quiet, Jackson took aim and pulled the ball wide. The final play of the game was a summary of the evening for Harlequins.

Two successive games without points.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 18 – 27 Leicester Tigers

15 Aaron Morris, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Alofa Alofa, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Rob Buchanan, 3 Adam Jones, 4 George Merrick, 5 Charlie Matthews, 6 James Chisholm, 7 Dave Ward ©, 8 Mat Luamanu

16 Joe Gray, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Stan South 20 George Naoupu, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Charlie Walker

Leicester Tigers
15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison, 1 Ellis Genge, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Greg Bateman, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Dom Barrow ©, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey

16 Tom Youngs, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Ben Betts, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Matt Smith
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 2:07 pm  

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