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Second-half fightback sweeps Tigers to victory

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An excellent second-half performance swept Leicester Tigers to a third successive Aviva Premiership victory as they came back from 10 points down at the Twickenham Stoop to beat Harlequins 27-18 on Friday night.

Tigers scored 24 points inside 18 second-half minutes to come back from 13-3 down at half-time deficit and inflict a first home defeat on Quins in the league this season.
Sam Harrison began the fightback with a try five minutes after the restart before a dangerous tackle on Adam Thompstone resulted in a penalty try.

Freddie Burns added an intercept try as Tigers recorded a first Premiership Rugby double over Quins since the 2010/11 season.
It was a sweet night for  second-rowers Dom Barrow and Harry Wells. Barrow captained Tigers for the first time in an Aviva Premiership fixture while Wells made his first league start.
There were changes in the front row, with starts for Ellis Genge, George McGuigan and Greg Bateman while Lachlan McCaffrey came into the back row alongside Brendon O’Connor and Mike Fitzgerald.
Peter Betham made his 50th Tigers appearance, just 16 months after his debut, and joined Maxime Mermoz at centre.
It was a slow start to the game with both sides feeling each other out in the early stages. Indeed, the game was five minutes old before Tigers put the first period of possession together.
Bateman picked up and went at a ruck in centre-field and had O’Connor in support. Three defenders converged on the Tigers back-rower, whose return pass went to ground with the Quins defence stretched.
JP Pietersen then stepped off his wing and through a gap but Mike Fitzgerald was tackled as he tried to latch on to the offload.
Bateman was at the centre of the action and made another line break to take Tigers up to the Quins 22. But Dave Ward made a smart tackle and, with Bateman isolated, won a holding-on penalty for the home side.
The first chance to put points on the board came in the 16th minute after Barrow was pulled down at a lineout. Burns’s kick from 40m gave Leicester a 3-0 lead.
Quins came away from their first visit to the Tigers 22 with their first points. Barrow was pinged for not rolling and Nick Evans, the former All Blacks fly-half, kicked a simple penalty to level the scores after 23 minutes.
It lifted the crowd and the home side responded with the first try, though it owed huge amount to luck. Matt Hopper’s grubber looked set to run dead but the ball hit the corner flag and bounced infield where Alofa Alofa collected possession to dot down. Evans converted to give Quins a 10-3 lead.
Evans came off soon after nursing an arm injury to be replaced by Ruaridh Jackson. One of Jackson’s first involvements was to land a penalty after Tigers infringed at a maul to give the hosts a 10-point lead.
Burns had a penalty from halfway with the last kick of the first period but his effort did not have the distance. Quins led 13-3 at the break.
Tigers got off to the perfect start to the second half with a try inside four minutes. The initial opening came for Telusa Veainu on the right, but the cover came across to halt his run. But Tigers kept possession and shifted the ball back infield where Harrison span out of a tackle and had the strength to score from close range.
Burns landed the conversion to leave Leicester 13-10 behind after 45 minutes.

Now it was Tigers’ turn to have their tails up. They immediately returned to the Quins 22 where Mermoz, Fitzgerald and Bateman all made huge carries. Eventually a penalty came and Burns kicked to the corner. Quins infringed at the lineout and with a penalty advantage Burns picked out Thompstone with a cross-field kick. Thompstone climbed above Aaron Morris, who tackled the Tigers man in midair.
Morris received a yellow card and referee Dean Richards awarded the penalty try. Burns converted to put Leicester 17-13 ahead.
Tigers brought on Tom Youngs for McGuigan, Mike Williams for Wells and Owen Williams for Thompstone, who went off for a head injury assessment, before the restart.
Tigers returned the Quins 22 where they enjoyed more possession and more pressure. Again Quins infringed, and this time Burns went for the posts. The fly-half made no mistake with his penalty to move Tigers 20-13 ahead after 57 minutes.
It was all Tigers at this stage. Burns put another penalty into the corner as they looked to capitalise further during the sin-bin period. A training ground move almost sent Mermoz over before Mike Williams’s pass evaded Pietersen’s reach with the line in sight.
Thompstone returned from his HIA for Betham as Morris came back from his sin-bin period.
Tigers extended their lead with an intercept try by Burns. He picked off Jackson’s pass 30m out and had the legs to hold off Joe Marchant and Marland Yarde to score. Burns took a bang in scoring so Owen Williams landed a simple conversion to move Tigers 27-13 ahead.
It was Burns’s last involvement. He was replaced by Matt Smith, while Jono Kitto came on for Harrison and Luke Hamilton came on for McCaffrey.
While it had been all Tigers in attack during the second half, it needed brilliant defensive work by Veainu to preserve the 14-point lead. Quins were still 80m from the Leicester line when they created an overlap on the right. Morris chipped over Veainu and then led the chase, supported by Yarde. But Veainu showed brilliant pace to get back 10m from his line, hold off the incoming challenges and buy enough time for the support to arrive.
Tigers defended for their lives as Quins hunted the converted try that would bring up a losing bonus point. With time up Hamilton received a yellow card after repeated Tigers infringements in their 22.
Quins had one last opportunity and made it count, driving their captain Ward over for a consolation try. Jackson missed the conversion that would have given the hosts a losing bonus-point, while the victory moved Tigers level on points with Bath Rugby in the race for a play-off place.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

HAR 13-3 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

HAR 18-27 LEI




Dean Richards


Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Penalties Conceded
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
Tackles Won
124/149 83%
129/139 93%
Scrums Won
4/5 20%
3/3 0%
Lineouts Won
14/14 100%
13/13 100%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
15Telusa Veainu
14Adam Thompstone
13Peter Betham
12Maxime Mermoz
11JP Pietersen
10Freddie Burns1T2C2P
9Sam Harrison1T
1Ellis Genge
2George McGuigan
3Greg Bateman
4Harry Wells
5Dom Barrow
6Michael Fitzgerald
7Brendon O'Connor
8Lachlan McCaffrey
16Tom Youngs
17Riccardo Brugnara
18Ben Betts
19Mike Williams
22Owen Williams1C
23Matt Smith

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV


Riccardo Brugnara
Riccardo Brugnara
Owen Williams
Owen Williams

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

Aaron Morris
Marland Yarde
Joe Marchant
Matt Hopper
Nick Evans
Mark Lambert
Rob Buchanan
Adam Jones
George Merrick
Charlie Matthews
James Chisholm
Dave Ward
Mathew Luamanu


Joe Gray
Owen Evans
Matthew Shields
George Naoupu
Luc Jones
Charlie Walker

Match preview: Quins versus Tigers

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Harlequins defend one of Aviva Premiership Rugby's best home records when Leicester Tigers travel to the Twickenham Stoop on Friday evening for the 200th meeting between the clubs.

Quins are one of only two teams with wins in each of their home league games so far this season, though they have lost at The Stoop against Edinburgh in the European Challenge Cup and to Sale Sharks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.  
Tigers beat Quins 25-6 in their first meeting this season, with Owen Williams and Freddie Burns sharing the points at Welford Road, but have not won at The Stoop in their last five visits.
Overall, the clubs have met on 199 previous occasions, with Leicester leading 111-79 in terms of wins, with nine games drawn. Tigers have won on 22 of their 36 visits to The Stoop.
Team news was announced on Thursday lunchtime, with Tigers welcoming back Lachlan McCaffrey and Peter Betham, while Dom Barrow is named as captain for the first time in Premiership Rugby.
Quins recall fly-half Nick Evans as one of four changes to the team that started against Bath last weekend. Alofa Alofa comes in on the wing, while prop Mark Lambert returns to the front row and George Merrick starts at lock. They have seven players away on international duty, including five with England – Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Jack Clifford, Mike Brown and Danny Care.
Tigers have enjoyed bonus-point wins over Gloucester and Bristol in the last two weeks but have not won away in the competition since the trip to Bristol at the end of November.
Head coach Aaron Mauger said: “The physicality was really good right from the off against Bristol last week but the guys had their feet firmly on the floor in the reviews on Monday and we know there are areas we can still improve.
“There is plenty of competition for places and it’s good we have the luxury of bringing in guys like Peter Betham who are hungry to perform.
“It’s a big game and our away form has not been great. Quins have always been a team playing high tempo, they like to throw the ball around and offload, and if they get in behind you defence they are hard to stop.”
Tigers will wear the club’s alternate kit at The Stoop on Friday evening.
Referee for Friday is Dean Richards, in charge of his 91st Premiership fixture.
Kick-off is at 7.45pm and tickets are available direct from the host club.
Tigers return to home turf next Friday for a Round 17 fixture against Exeter Chiefs. Kick-off is at 7.45pm. Tickets are available now at the Tigers ticket office. Call in at Welford Road or phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2)(open 9am-5pm Monday-Saturday) or click here to book online.
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Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI22140856744512258486466
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