Harlequins edge Leicester in thriller at The Stoop

Friday, 19th February 2016 @ 22:00



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Harlequins leapfrogged Leicester Tigers and moved into fourth in the Aviva Premiership table as a heroic defence saw them hold on for a 25-19 win.

Only one point separated the two sides on the table at the start of the day and it was even closer than that in the first half as three penalties a piece saw the sides go into the break level at 9-9.

The lead would see-saw back and forth in the second spell until a Marland Yarde try put Quins up by nine with only five minutes to play.

Freddie Burns closed the gap by three but incredible defence by the home side, powered by a capacity crowd, saw Harlequins hold on for a dramatic 25-19 win in front of their home support.

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Earlier in the evening the match kicked off with both sides in a mid-season slump, both desperate to get their campaigns back on track.

Three consecutive domestic losses for Quins had seen them slip out of the top four but they knew a win would send them back into the playoff picture.

While Leicester edged the reverse fixture back in Round 2 they hadn’t won at The Stoop since April 2012. Fly-half Oli Bryant gave them an early advantage in this encounter after his penalty gave them a 0-3 lead after six minutes.

Ben Botica levelled for the home side minutes later but with the wind against them they struggled to get on top in the territorial battle. When they finally made ground they were disrupted by an intercepted pass that would have been seven points if not for an incredible try saving tackle from Ross Chisholm.

Neither side would get themselves closer to a try in the first half as Botica and Bryant exchanged penalties with the teams going into the break level at 9-9.

Harlequins came out of the break on top as their scrum caused Tigers trouble the entire match.

Their forward pack was equally as dominant at the breakdown led by Man of the Match Luke Wallace and a physical Nick Easter.

The work of the forwards giving Botica more points as a near perfect night with the boot helped Harlequins to a 15-9 lead after 55 minutes.

If the Londoners thought they could take their foot off the pedal, they were wrong as Tigers struck back with the first try of the night. A penalty putting them in Quins territory, before a crash ball to Manu Tuilagi gave them the momentum for replacement hooker Harry Thacker to power over. Freddie Burns converted and Tigers suddenly led 15-16 after all the hard work from Quins.

With an hour gone, the final quarter was all to play for, both sides looking like they could get the right result but in the end it was Harlequins defence that gave them the victory.

A huge tackle on half way saw Leicester knock on and Botica pounced on the ball. He kicked ahead for a speeding Marland Yarde to latch on to and dive over to score. The14,800 in attendance jumping to their feet in unison.

Botica added the extras to give them a nine point lead with only five minutes to play in the encounter.

Burns closed the gap to six with a penalty a minute later and with time up on the clock the visitors had one last siege on the Harlequins line.

The home side were up for the challenge though as they repelled over 25 phases before finally turning the ball over, allowing JP Doyle to blow his whistle on proceedings.

Harlequins held on for the 25-19 victory that sends them third in the table (even if only temporarily). Next up for Harlequins, an away trip to Coventry to play a Wasps side who are right on their tails.

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Team line Ups

Aviva Premiership

League Table 2015-16

Team PLD W D L F A TF TA TB LB PTS
22 17 1 4 580 376 60 36 8 2 80
22 15 0 7 585 361 71 40 8 6 74
22 15 0 7 598 397 71 42 9 3 72
22 14 0 8 509 475 55 48 6 3 65
22 12 0 10 455 392 51 35 5 7 60
22 11 2 9 456 459 53 52 6 4 58
22 10 1 11 547 583 55 66 6 7 55
22 10 1 11 429 423 36 44 2 5 49
22 9 0 13 435 460 47 43 4 8 48
22 7 0 15 420 597 47 74 2 5 35
22 5 1 16 357 556 34 62 0 5 27
22 4 0 18 328 620 36 74 0 4 20