An exciting matchup, with plenty of tries and slick attacking play from both sides.
Leicester Tigers were two points away from a monumental first-ever win in Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby but Harlequins Women pulled away in the dying minutes.
The hosts come away with a try bonus point and their pride but that first win remains elusive for now.
On a chilly night in Leicester, under a deep dark sky, the visitors kick us off.
Turning over the ball quickly, Quins have the initial advantage and kick to the Tigers 22 but a knock-on hands the home side the scrum. From there, Meg Jones carries in and sets a platform for Sarah Nicholas to clear the ball long.
Tigers are up quick in defence, with USA compatriots hitting a huge double tackle, driving back prop Turani. This tough defence forces a knock-on just moments later and the Tigers earn the scrum near halfway.
From the scrum, Lucy Nye pulls a clever dink over the top, allowing the home team to put the pressure on.
Possession changes hands a few times here but a couple of minutes later it’s the Tigers who make the game’s first break, a slick move allowing Jones to fling the ball wide to Francesca McGhie who speeds down the left. Her grubber through is collected well, however, Quins running it back.
Here the visitors get the game’s opening score. Hooker Connie Powell makes a break in midfield and she’s got two runners on her shoulders. A succession of pops later, scrum-half Flo Robinson dives over for Harlequins’ first try.
Tigers don’t lie down though and come flying back into it with loads of energy.
There are strong carries from Brody, Keia Mae and Eva Donaldson, lots of pop passes and slick hands allowing for continuous gain line progression.
Quins fire back themselves with a succession of driving mauls from lineouts, Tigers on the wrong end of a couple of penalties. They make it to the line, and shift the play from the left to right touchline, but the Tigers defend doggedly, finally holding the ball upright as they make it over the line.
However, right after a clearing kick, Quins come right back, a handful of phases and a penalty later and lock Kaitlan Leaney scores in the corner.
Tigers don’t let their heads drop again and win an astute turnover soon after, allowing a kick to touch. The crowd roar in response as the set piece is won well and a slick move sees Tigers fly through, a move reminiscent of the early try against Saracens, only a knock on halting momentum.
Moments later, slick offloading sees McGhie fly clear again, making it from inside her own half to just outside the 22, covered well by Ellie Kildunne.
Possession is traded back and forth but the Tigers shift it to the right side and win a penalty, duly kicked to touch. From there, a line out is executed to perfection. When the ball is played out to a wide-set back line, Meg Jones instead steps inward, poking through a grubber that she collects herself and then dots down to get Tigers' first points of the day.
McGhie has been electric thus far in the match, Tartan Teflon as the Scot flies through another set of tackles to break in midfield, looking for a last score before half time.
She offloads to fellow Scot Elis Martin but a wayward ball is intercepted by Quins who break themselves and, after a few passes, Red Rose flyer Ellie Kildunne touches down to end the half on a sour note for the hosts.
Half-time: Leicester Tigers 7 – 19 Harlequins Women
Tigers start the half strongly and get a try after just five minutes.
Amy Relf and Charlotte Fray have made an instant impact off the bench, the former dictating play from the base and the latter flying into contact and bludgeoning lines to knock back the opposition. The home side has all the momentum and a penalty won is kicked to touch for a rolling maul that rumbles right over for a try to put the home side back in the contest.
However, the visitors have other ideas, halting momentum by scoring almost immediately, claiming the ball back and allowing prop Bryony Cleall to drive over following a succession of incremental gain line metres.
But moments later Tigers fire right back themselves.
This move starts and ends with Brody who has been immense, an initial superb carry from deep from the No. 8 making twenty metres as she drives through contact. Tigers win a penalty moments later and from the line out, she breaks off early and dives over to touch down.
It’s all Tigers from there as the home side fights back into the match and grabs another score just a couple of minutes later.
A line out on halfway allows clean ball to the backs and a beautiful floated kick from Meg Jones is collected at full tilt by McGhie who puts on the afterburners and dives over to a cheering crowd. Jones follows this up with a dynamite kick from the left-hand side, the ball sailing through to take us to a two-point game and securing a try bonus point.
It’s all to play for now and momentum duly swinging to and fro over the next ten minutes as both sides flight with blood and thunder for the victory.
Quins have a line out on the five metre but it’s defended superbly by Tigers, first halting the rumbling pack and then flying up to drive back the opposition to the 22, turning the ball over in the process.
Tigers clear their lines successively but then the visitors reply, breaking well and then winning a penalty on halfway, kicking to the five-metre line.
From there, the game comes to a close as we enter the final couple of minutes; the line out is halted well but then Quins send body after body at tired shoulders, several phases of tight carries finally paying dividends as the visitors scored the game’s final try.
Quins take the victory after a fiercely contested matchup from both sides.