Friday, 21st December 2018 @ 18:00
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Leicester Tigers scored four as they condemned Harlequins to a frustrating defeat on the road.
Tigers led 23-9 at half-time thanks to a brace of scores from winger Jonah Holmes and the boot of George Ford.
The hosts began to move out of sight when Manu Tuilagi went over for Tigers' third, but Cadan Murley ran over for his first try to offer Quins a chance of taking something from the match with just over 15 minutes left on the clock.
Chances of a dramatic victory turned from slim to none when Jonny May crossed on the 70th minute to establish a 35-19 lead. Alex Dombrandt crossed with one second left on the clock and a bonus point was a possibility however Quins were ushered into touch to end Tigers' lenghty winless run.
From the off, Tigers looked impressive as Ellis Genge looked to burst through the midfield in just the second minute. Their early lengthy spell of pressure resulted in the first points of the match when George Ford knocked over a simple penalty.
The first try came on 16 minutes when - after Quins had been whistled for going off their feet phases earlier - Ford was allowed to play a delayed pass to winger Jonah Holmes who crossed. With the conversion added, a ten-point lead was established.
Confidence grew for Harlequins shortly after when James Lang sent over two penalties in quick succession. That four point-deficit became seven shortly after when Harlequins were whistled at the scrum and Ford stayed perfect with the boot.
Following Ford's penalty, at the restart, Harlequins over-committed with men going forward and Tigers were allowed to break. Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau dashed forwards to play in Holmes who collected the offload to skate over.
With Tigers beginning to establish a dominant lead the away side began to grow in confidence, and when Lang sent over his third penalty to make it 20-9 Quins looked like they would end the half on top from a performance point of view. Alex Dombrandt looked good with the ball in hand and Mike Brown played through a clever kick to pin Tigers back.
With the clock ticking down towards half-time, Tigers exited well and were handed another shot at goal on the stroke of half-time. Ford sent it over to make the score 23-9 heading into the sheds. To make matters worse, Paul Lasike was forced off with a nasty head injury; Alofa Alofa on in his place.
Quins started the second half brightly, and were the first to contribute to the scoreboard when Lang sent over another penalty on 45 minutes.
Shortly after, Harlequins were forced to set up camp in their own 22; doing well with two close range line outs and looking like they were going to come away unscathed.
On 57 minutes, Tigers made their pressure count, despite the intervention of the TMO. With Quins going in search of an intercepted ball, the ball spilled forward and Dan Cole was allowed to gather after it went off his head. The tighthead dashed forwards and eventually, Manu Tuilagi crossed down the right hand side, giving Harlequins a 16-point deficit to get the better of.
16 points became nine when Cadan Murley dashed over from close range following some wonderful handling from Mike Brown, and with just 16 minutes left on the clock a chance of a comeback still mathematically looked possible.
Quins brought pressure on themselves from the restart when the ball slipped forward and Tigers were given a good attacking platform.
Eventually, Tigers had their fourth when play was brought up to a metre out and the Welford Road outfit could fling the ball out left for Jonny May to run onto and score. With ten minutes left the scoreboard read 35-19 in favour of the hosts.
In the final moments, momentum seemed to swing back Quins' way with Marcus Smith and Murley linking up well down the left to get good ground.
Harlequins had a number of close-range scrums and with one second left on the clock, they were awarded the score as Alex Dombrandt crashed over. With the score at 35-24, Quins rejected the chance of the conversion to ensure play could be restarted.
It was, but as Quins went in search of a losing bonus point, they were ushered into touch down the left hand side.
Following the defeat, Harlequins will return to league action at Big Game 11 on Saturday 29th December against Wasps. Tickets are available to purchase online.