Leicester eclipse Quins in epic
April 21, 2012
Tigers edge out Quins in epic%]
Leicester Tigers secured a thrilling 43-33 victory over leaders Harlequins in a classic Aviva Premiership clash at The Stoop.
In a devastating statement of intent, the Tigers cameback from 13 points down to claim an attacking bonus point and their seventh straight Premuership success. The win sees the Tigers leapfrog Saracens back into second place, with a win against Bath in two weeks' time set to guarantee them a home semi-final. However, they may have to enter that game without England flanker Tom Croft, who was stretchered from the field in the first half with a suspected neck injury.
In an action-packed first half, Leicester drew first blood through Thomas Waldrom's try, only for Harlequins to race into a 23-10 advantage courtesy of two tries from Ugo Monye and Nick Easter. But Leicester ensured the game remained in the balance at half-time as Steve Mafi went over to ensure they were only three points behind. While George Lowe's try restored Quins' advantage, Leicester went through the gears in the second half as a try from Alesana Tuilagi and Waldrom's second brought up the bonus point before Toby Flood, who finished with 23 points, rounded off the win with a late penalty.
Leicester's intentions were clear from the off as Flood turned down a shot at goal and kicked to the corner, with No.8 Waldrom finishing off a catch-and-drive under a heap of Quins players, with Flood adding the extras. The home team hit back immediately through a Nick Evans penalty and the New Zealander added a further penalty after one from Flood.
The England hopeful then had a big hand in the next try, but it was not the one he wanted, as Monye came off his wing to pick off Flood's pass before sprinting in from 60 metres. Evans' conversion put Quins 13-10 up and they were soon a man to the good as well after Manu Tuilagi was yellow-carded for pulling a home attacker and Evans added further punishment with the boot.
Leicester's Anthony Allen proves elusive during what was a thrilling encounter at The Stoop © Getty Images
With momentum firmly behind the home team, No.8 Easter added their third try when he went blind from a five-metre scrum to crash over with Evans' conversion taking the hosts 13 points ahead. Croft injured himself in his attempt to halt Easter and was treated on the pitch for six minutes before being carried off.
Evans and Flood traded another penalty apiece before Leicester rallied on the stroke of half-time, first when Mafi - Croft's replacement - spotted a gap at a ruck and raced through. Flood converted and added a penalty in the final play of the half to leave the game tantalisingly poised at 26-23 to the home side.
The home team's advantage soon evaporated with Flood kicking Leicester level after the Tigers scrum earned a penalty. But in a topsy-turvy game, Quins immediately hit back when they won a scrum against the head and centre Lowe latched onto Evans' perfectly-weighted grubber-kick and Evans converted.
There was no let-up in the action, with Quins being tested to the limit before drawing level in the 63rd minute. Centre Anthony Allen laid the platform with a scything break before the ball was shifted to the left where Alesana Tuilagi who was not going to be stopped from close range. Flood added the extras to make it 33-apiece, and Waldrom's converted try after 70 minutes put the visitors in the driving seat and earned the bonus point. It was the outstanding Flood who rounded off the victory with a late penalty.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra