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Saturday, 4 May 2019

Harlequins keep play-off hopes alive with win over Leicester Tigers at the Twickenham Stoop

Under a gloomy sky, the fans cheered on their teams. Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers at the Twickenham Stoop.

Despite some fast hands and attacking play, with Marcus Smith breaking through the defence for the hosts, it was the visiting Tigers who opened the scoring from the boot – a penalty after just 3 minutes: Harlequins 0 – 3 Leicester Tigers.

Not to be deterred, the home fans sang out loud, spurring their team on in this final home game of the season.

Mike Brown sent the ball high and Tigers gathered. The speed of the Quins’ defence was such that the visitors were pushed back. The hosts overturned possession and pushed up to the 22 before earning a penalty – Leicester failed to roll away.

Smith kicked to the corner for an attacking line-out as the fans sang out loud. The hosts recycled the ball time and again, pushing for the whitewash. Advantage was given but was ultimately unnecessary as Danny Care acted quickly to tap down from the ruck. Smith added the extra two: Harlequins 7 – 3 Leicester Tigers (8 minutes).

The fans were in a jubilant mood, singing at any opportunity.

Tigers secured line-out ball inside Quins’ territory but the hosts tackled hard, stopping the opposition in their tracks. Such was the ground being lost by the visitors, they threw back into their own half in an attempt to build momentum.

Joe Marchant put in a thumping tackle but referee Wayne Barnes ruled him offside. Another opportunity for George Ford to kick for the posts; another three points: Harlequins 7 – 6 Leicester Tigers (13 minutes).

Quins still held on to a narrow lead and Brown gathered the high-ball well, making strides back into Tigers’ territory. Smith saw an opportunity and sent the ball over the visiting defence; but it was caught and the mark called. Tigers found touch at halfway.

The hosts secured the ball and formed a maul. It made little ground; Tigers turned over possession but were dragged into touch.

Jack Clifford performed well in the line-out, gathering and delivering to Danny Care. Quins quickly powered through to the 22 before earning another line-out. This time, the set-piece failed with James Horwill, in his final home game for Harlequins, knocking on. Scrum to Tigers.

The visitors earned advantaged then full penalty; the offender was Joe Marler.

Tigers found touch back on the half-way line. Despite a strong challenge from the hosts, Leicester still came away with possession. They box-kicked out but only reached the waiting arms of Gabriel Ibitoye. Care sent a longer kick back into touch, clearing his lines.

Walking wounded for Tigers – Thompson off O’Connor on (20 minutes).

Tigers regained possession but Quins attacked the breakdown and secured turnover ball. Smith saw another opening and sent the ball deep into opposition territory for a chase. Tigers gathered and frantically found touch.

Elia Elia again found his mark in the line-out and the hosts pushed up to the 22. Attacking the try line, Care attempted a cheeky little kick through; Tigers were prepared and touched down first. Barnes was playing advantage and Smith successfully kicked the penalty: Harlequins 10 - 6 Leicester Tigers.

Another replacement for the visitors as Williams made way for Fitzgerald in a Head Injury Assessment (24 minutes).

The game restarted with a scrum to Quins but immediately the referee blew for a Tigers penalty – Sinckler collapsing the scrum.

The visitors found touch on the 22 and successfully gathered the ball in the set-piece. Tigers were starting to find their pace and an offside decision against the hosts allowed George Ford his third shot at the posts; successful: Harlequins 10 – 9 Leicester Tigers (28 minutes).

The re-start ball was sent deep into Tigers’ territory. A cross-field clearance allowed Leicester to retain possession. They passed the ball from wing to wing but without gaining any ground. The visitors were forced to box-kick and Quins returned possession.

Ibitoye was backtracking, hoping the Tigers’ kick would send the ball into the dead zone. Instead it stopped short, forcing Ibitoye to gather. He left it too late to react and was engulfed by the chasing Tigers. Care box-kicked to safety but this still handed Tigers a line-out in the host territory.

Ellis Genge slipped through three tackles, getting over the 22, for the visitors but Chris Robshaw turned over possession and Care did not box-kick on this occasion, instead passing wide to allow the wingers to stretch their legs.

Elia Elia off, Buchamam on for Quins (33 minutes).

Tigers restarted with a line-out but knocked-on. A momentary scare as Robshaw was taken out in an accidental collision, but soon he was back on his feet.

Scrum to Harlequins at halfway.

Care fed the ball; offloaded to Smith and back to Care. The forwards opted to grab and drive before passing out wide again. A momentary loss of concentration with passing behind the players saw Tigers steal possession. They kicked long but the mark was called by the hosts. Tigers gathered and returned but Jack Clifford was shown yellow for failing to pull out of a tackle (36 minutes).

With a penalty, Tigers’ pushed their way into the 22 but were forced into touch.

Another failed set-piece for the hosts saw Quins threw long; a mistake gathered up by Leicester who, with a man advantage, pushed up to the whitewash. The forwards were attacking and advantage was given for offside.

Leicester Tigers suffered another loss to a Head Injury Assessment as Telusa Veainu was temporarily replaced by George Worth (39 minutes).

Ford lined up an easy penalty in front of the posts. The fans booed as he counted down the clock to end the first half, kicking Tigers into the lead.

Half Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 10 – 12 Leicester Tigers

Veainu returned to the pitch for the start of the second half, having passed his HIA.

Tigers started the second half with the same attitude they had at the end of the first 40 minutes. They had a determination to push on. A knock-on, however, handed Quins the set-piece.

They gathered well but kicked long without a chase, allowing Tigers to run back out of their 22 unopposed.

The visitors then opted to kick and Brown gathered. Care sent the ball high. It was a period of frenzied play with no side able to keep possession. A loud cheer greeted Clifford as he returned to the pitch having served his sin-bin.

Care again box-kicked; the Leicester Tigers fallback gathered but a forward pass following a thumping tackle handed a scrum to the hosts in Leicester’s half.

The fans in the stands cheered loudly and erupted as Wayne Barnes awarded Quins a penalty – Genge penalised for collapsing the scrum.

Smith slotted in a kick to bring the hosts back into the lead: Harlequins 13 – 12 Leicester Tigers (50 minutes).

Strong tackled were again coming in from Quins with Care flooring Ford. The visitors were able to find touch deep in Quins’ territory. The possession from the line-out was short-lived as the ball re-entered touch, handing possession back to the visitors.

Dombrandt stood firm for the hosts and achieved a penalty; Tigers did not release the ball.

Quins found touch in Tiger’s territory and secured line-out ball as a chorus of ‘the Might Quins’ emanated around The Stoop.

Another penalty to the hosts and another long kick for the fly-half. What a kick! Harlequins 16 – 12 Leicester Tigers (55 minutes).

Quins had the bit between the teeth and offloads between Sinckler and Ibitoye saw strides made along the near wing. Ibitoye knocked-on under tackle for a Tigers’ scrum, still in their own half.

The fans were in superb voice. Sione Kalamafoni came away with the ball for the visitors but obstruction handed Quins a penalty. Tempers started to fray as Smith kicked to the corner for a line-out within the 22.

Rob Buchanan found his mark; a maul formed then Care released the forwards.

Care controlled the pace and direction until a thumping tackle on Dombrandt slowed the pace. Possession was turned over and Tigers’ kicked for safety, reaching the very dangerous hands of Brown who gathered the ball and ran it straight back.

A knock-on from an offside position handed Tigers a free-kick to touch as Dombrandt was replaced (61 minutes) by Semi Kunatani.

Ibitoye gathered a high-ball under pressure and despite juggling, maintained possession.

Care box-kicked; Tigers gathered but Clifford earned a penalty for the hosts, challenging at the breakdown forcing Leicester to enter from the side.

Smith found touch; the line-out was not pretty but Quins maintained control. They drove up to the 22 and earned another penalty (Leicester failed to roll away); Smith lined up the posts but pulled it wide (65 minutes).

Another penalty to the hosts with Tigers’ straying offside.

Again, the loyal fans sang aloud as Smith found touch. Buchanan found his mark, Horwill, on the 22. A maul formed and Care peeled off the back with the ball, darting for the line.

The Television Match Official was called in. No try. Free kick to Tigers. Ford failed to find touch – Brown keeping the ball from crossing the whitewash but in doing so knocked it on.

Scrum to Tigers who passed quickly and powered up to the Quins’ 22. Such was the pressure of the host defence, Tigers were forced to kick; a mistake sending the ball out on the full.

Marcus Smith was replaced by James Lang for the hosts.

Quins regained possession and Care again broke through the defence. In a forced period of play, Quins knocked on handing play to Leicester.

Dan Cole off, Joe Heyes on for the visitors (71 minutes).

Quins were successful in their own line-out and advantage was awarded. They attempted a cross-field kick but this was intercepted by the visitors. The referee blew, returning play to the original penalty.

Lang found touch as Care was replaced (72 minutes).

Quins’ rolling maul crossed into the 22 as Semi Kunatani broke away from the ruck and sprinted for the posts, adding another try to his repertoire.

Horwill was replaced for the final time on Stoop soil to a standing ovation (73 minutes).

Sinckler was replaced by Will Collier for Harlequins and Jordan Olowofela was applauded as he left the pitch, arm in a sling and taking on oxygen – replaced by George Worth for Leicester.

James Lang added the conversion: Harlequins 23 – 12 Leicester Tigers (74 minutes).

Leicester were building up speed but a long pass edging forward handed Quins a scrum inside Tigers’ territory.

It was re-set as the clock counted down. The set-piece overpowered Tigers and a penalty was awarded. They kicked for a line-out on the 22; formed a maul; the forwards were brought into play, grabbing and driving. It was the turn of Tigers’ to earn a penalty; Quins marched back an extra 10 metres.

Tigers found touch inside the opposition half, securing the line-out and piling the pressure on. They earned a penalty and kicked for the corner. From the set-piece, Tigers quickly passed for an attack on the wing. Advantage to Tigers but Mike Fitzgerald (82 minutes).

Conversion added by Ford to end the game.

Full Time at the Twickenham Stoop: Harlequins 23 – 19 Leicester Tigers

14,301 tickets issued

MOTM Harlequins’ Chris Robshaw

15 Mike Brown, 14 Gabriel Ibitoye, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Charles Walker, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Elia Elia, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Mat Symons, 5 James Horwill (CC), 6 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw (CC), 8 Jack Clifford

Game Changers
16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Will Collier, 19 Stan South, 20 Semi Kunatani, 21 Sam Hildago-Clyne, 22 James Lang, 23 Ross Chisholm

Leicester Tigers
15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Sam Apsland-Robinson, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford ©, 9 Sam Harrison, 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Will Spencer, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams, 7 Guy Thompson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni

16 Jake Kerr, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Brendon O’Connor, 21 Ben White, 22 George Worth, 23 Jordan Olowofela

Match Report: Natalie Osborne Photographs: Chris Spring
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 5:30 am  

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