Leicester Tigers recorded a first away win of the season with a 31-28 verdict at Harlequins on Saturday in Round 4 of the Aviva Premiership season.
Telusa Veainu provided the only try of the opening half, showing good pace and a clever finish in the right-hand corner, with George Ford kicking the other points as the visitors went at the break 11-9 in front.
But two tries in the opening minutes of the second half from Quins threatened to change the change completely, before Tigers replied in similar fashion through Jonny May and Greg Bateman to set up an enthralling final quarter as the lead continued to change hands regularly.
A final penalty from Ford gave Tigers the lead for a fourth – and final – time in the afternoon as Tigers recorded a second successive win at The Stoop.
After a first win of the season against Gloucester in Round 3, head coach Matt O’Connor welcomed back Dom Barrow in the second row and Dominic Ryan at flanker, with Joe Maksymiw missing out and Luke Hamilton reverting to the bench.
Harry Wells, retained in the second row, made his 20th first-appearance to qualify for his player’s tie.
After Harlequins kicked off, buoyed by an away win over Wasps in the previous round, they held ball for the opening three minutes, getting through a dozen phases of play before gaining a penalty when Tigers played themselves into trouble on their own line. Fly-half Marcus Smith, this week named in England’s training squad, kicked them into a three-point lead.
Tigers were given an instant opportunity to reply when Quins knocked-on at the restart and then penalised at the scrum, allowing Ford to level the scores with a kick from 35 metres.
A succession of penalties against Quins began with Mark Lambert failing to roll away from a tackle on Ellis Genge and, after setting up a drive at the resulting lineout, Tigers looked to keep the pressure on the home defence.
They finally got a reward when quick lineout ball on the left and carries from Mike Williams and Sione Kalamafoni provided fresh momentum. Jonny May entered play on the right and Veainu slid to the tryline. The assistant referee had the perfect view and confirmed the score to referee Ian Tempest.
Ford, though, could not add the conversion as Tigers led 8-3 with 13 minutes gone.
Fly-half Smith cut the deficit with a three-pointer after Genge was penalised in a central position and Tigers lost Ryan to a head injury assessment during the break in play, with Hamilton entering the action.
Veainu showed another flash of brilliance on a run upfield just after the 20-minute mark, wrong-footing a succession of defenders as he straightened his line, but May and Nick Malouf were unable to latch on to the opportunity on the right with Quins running out of cover.
There was a scare at the other end when Malouf was hit as he tried to claim a kick and then Marcus Smith anticipated a pass from Ben Youngs, but Veainu raced across to make the tackle.
Respite did not last long, though. Dan Cole was penalised for a deliberate knock-on 25 metres out and Smith confidently added the kick to give the hosts a 9-8 advantage.
Veanui sniffed another opportunity when Quins knocked-on at the restart and Tigers set up an attack from the scrum. The defence quickly closed down on the Tonga international but Tigers still had an opportunity when Quins were penalised for a high tackle.
Tigers were gaining some reward at scrum time too, but after two penalties within reach of the line, it was the visiting pack who were then penalised at the set-piece and Quins were able to clear.
They could not keep Tigers out of reach for long, though, and Ford landed a penalty kick from the right when Quins were whistled at a breakdown to reclaim the lead for the visitors just two minutes before half-time.
Neither set of coaches made any changes at half-time, but it was Quins who gained the breakthrough with two tries in a two-minute spell.
First Danny Care scored with a tap penalty and then heavyweight back-rower Mat Loamanu rampaged his way to the line in the corner.
As Quins forced Tigers off their ball at a scrum on halfway, Alofa Alofa threatened with a run up towards the line. But at the recycle, Care’s pass picked out Genge who was still retreating. The referee awarded a penalty and Care went for the tap and darted to the line to the left of the posts. The conversion from Smith made it 16-11 to the hosts with 43 minutes gone.
And 90 seconds later, Quins latched on to loose ball near halfway and, with Chris Robshaw flat out injured in the middle of the pitch, Marland Yarde broke upfield before Loamanu arrived on his right shoulder and outpaced the defence to score and provide a 10-point cushion.
Referee Tempest lost his patience with the props at the next scrum, showing a yellow card to Genge and Will Collier as the front rows went to ground, while Quins also lost fly-half Smith to injury, with Tim Swiel brought off the bench.
As the game opened up, Tigers grabbed a second try and a foothold in the game, with Matt Toomua tempting the Quins defence out and delaying the pass long enough to pick out May on the left and he ran round Yarde to score his fourth try of the season. Ford’s extras made it 21-18.
Harry Thacker replaced skipper Tom Youngs before Quins kicked off again and Tigers were quickly back on to the front foot with a scrum on halfway after some obstruction from the Quins attack.
And after a strong carry from Hamilton and then Malouf, and with a penalty advantage being played, replacement Bateman showed some sharp finishing skills for a try which wrestled the advantage back in the direction of the visitors. Ford’s conversion made it 25-21 in their favour.
A see-saw encounter continued as Quins claimed the next score on 63 minutes. First, Tigers repelled charges from Loamanu and Roberts, with Ford making a superb stop on the Welsh centre, but then Care picked out a run from Alofa on the left with the defence short-handed and he ran through behind the posts to score. Swiel’s conversion swung the scoreboard in the hosts’ favour at 28-25.
Ford quickly levelled the scores again with a penalty from the edge of the 22 as both sides still struggled to retain any advantage.
One phase of play around the 72-minute mark had fans from both sides on their feet as Yarde broke free on the Quins right. First, he kicked over Veainu as Genge made a tackle, then Malouf chased Ford’s clearing kick all the way up to the home side’s tryline. When the referee blew for a penalty against Quins, he ran through the play with the television match official before returning for the Tigers penalty.
Ford kicked the three-pointer to claim the lead for a fourth time with just six minutes remaining but the Tigers defence still had to stay on task, keeping Quins in their own half.
Another period of pressure promised a final, decisive score from Tigers, with Sam Harrison and Genge going close, but Quins stuck on their tackles and when Tigers went wide, ball was lost just five metres out with less than three minutes remaining.
The next three minutes were played out just metres from the Quins line as they kept hold of the ball and Tigers kept tackling, before a final spill allowed the visitors to claim possession and kick out to secure a hard-fought win.
What a game!
What an advert for the Aviva Premiership. It was a game that had everything, the lead swapping hands time and again, brilliant tries and huge hits. Don't miss the highlights!
Tigers claim their first win on the road, and their second in a row, with a gutsy, battling performance at The Twickenham Stoop. What a game!
Time is up
80 minutes on the clock and Quins are still pinned in their 22
Tigers defence is brilliant
No way out for Quins as Tigers keep them pinned on their own line
The clock has stopped as a massive scrum is set 5m from the Quins line. Tigers have the nudge on but it's to be reset, Two minutes left
So close for Tigers
May makes a lovely break, finds Harrison but he is stopped by last-man Harrison. Tigers hammer away but Barrow cannot collect Harrison's pass and spills the ball 3m out
A long five minutes ahead
There are still five minutes to go, and anything could happen, such has been the topsy turvy nature of this game. It's breathless
It's carnage out there!
The bodies are tiring everywhere out there. Replacement Tait is off after hurting himself in a big tackle and Joe Ford on for his Tigers debut. Now Sam Harrison replaces Ben Youngs
Tigers lead, again!
With everything go off around him, Ford keeps his cool to kick the penalty and push Tigers into the lead
Tigers go for the posts
Play comes all the way back for the infringement on he Quins line. No card for Roberts. Ford to go for the posts
Referee Tempest goes to his TMO to check Genge and Veainu's tackle on Yarde. It's all good!
It's all happening here!
Genge makes the tackle on Yarde as he chips ahead. Tigers counterattack. Malouf wins the foot race to Ford's kick. He is held by Roberts and Tigers have the penalty on the Quins line.
Valentino Mapapalangi forces the knock-on in the tackle. Good work by the Tonga back-row replacement
Quins loosehead prop Lewis Boyce is on for Mark Lambert for his league bow
Mulipola on for Cole. T Youngs is back on for Thacker, who has picked up a knock
It's all square at The Stoop
Ford kicks the penalty, and it is 28-28 in Twickenham. All to play for in the last 13 minutes.
Mat Tait is on for Matt Smith, as Tigers win a penalty in front of the posts for hands in the ruck
Quins lose possession at the kick-off and it almost lands in the hands of May, but he cannot collect and it's a knock-on to Tigers
Swiel kicks the conversion
Swiel has a simple conversion to complete the seven-point score
Quins go over again
Quins make the most of a penalty advantage, with Care picking out Alofa Alofa to crash over from close range
The fans loved that!
More on Bateman's try
Props aren't meant to score tries like that! He glides past James Horwill as he collects Ford's pass and then steps around Brown to score
Ford adds the extras
It's 14 points in two minutes for Tigers, as Ford adds the extras. Tigers lead by four with 21 minutes to go
What a try! What a match!
Greg Bateman charges on to Ford's flat pass, steps around England's Mike Brown and scores a beauty by the posts.
A captain's shift by Tom Youngs comes to an end, and Harry Thacker is on
More on May's try
Ben Youngs and Malouf combine brilliantly to take Tigers down the left. It comes back inside, where Toomua lets Care fly out of the line and throws a wonderful pass to give May a free run to the line. May runs round towards the posts to make the conversion easier
Ford adds a simple conversion to bring Tigers back to within three points
Brilliant try for Tigers
TRRYY! It's that man May who is in for Tigers! His fourth for the Tigers
Subs for each team
Bateman comes on for Williams, Sinckler for Marchant for the scrum, which Quins win a penalty at
Yellow card apiece
Genge and Will Collier receive a yellow card for a misdemeanor at scrum time. They shrug at each other as they come off
Genge on the hoof
Ellis Genge in full flow is a thing of beauty. He charges over Jamie Roberts but spills the ball as he goes to ground.
Smith is off for Quins with Tim Swiel on at fly-half
It's all happening at the Stoop
Conversion missed, Chris Robshaw off for a HIA with Ben Glynn on
More points for Quins
Quins have flown out of the blocks to score a second try in the opening moments of the second half. Mat Luamanu holds off the despairing late tackle to score at the right-hand corner
Smith adds the extras
Fly-half Marcus Smith completes the seven-point score with the conversion
Care gives Quins the lead
Tigers can't deal with the Quins attack and get the penalty for the retreating Genge blocking Care's pass. Care takes it quick and scores by the posts
A scrum early in the second half is overturned by Quins and they attack from deep
Second half underway
George Ford kicks off the second half, with Tigers attacking the end to the left as we type!
Tigers fans tuning into the game across the world!
That's half-time. Tigers hold a two-point lead, thanks to Veainu's first try of the season and six points for George Ford.
Not straight, again!
The Quins lineout not functioning at times today ... Buchanan again off target with his throw
Tigers lead again
... Ford arrows his kick between the posts to give Tigers a two-point lead. The penalty count stacking up against Quins, who have given eight away so far this half
Penalty to Tigers
Tigers have a chance to retake the lead. Quins pinged on the floor in stopping Genge's run. Ford to kick ...
Youngs with the break
Ben Youngs snipes down the side of a ruck. He has Ford in support and slides a kick towards the line but Smith gets back to mop up and Quins secure possession
Another scrum penalty
Another scrum ends in a penalty to Tigers. Ford kicks them to the Quins 22, but Tigers lose their first lineout of the afternoon
Quins look neat moving the ball in front of the Leicester defence, but Tigers don't look in trouble and eventually Buchanan knocks-on
Scrum on down
Tigers win two successive penalties at the scrum 5m from the Quins line, pack down for a third time, and referee Tempest awards the penalty against the visitors!
Strong and stable
And solid scrum platform gives Tigers a really good attacking position in the Quins 22. Veainu and Malouf test the defence before Tigers get the penalty for a high tackle on Veainu
England head coach Eddie Jones has made the short trip from Twickenham HQ to Twickenham Stoop to watch today's proceedings.
Quins lead again
Dan Cole gives Smith a welcome tackle. But the Tigers prop cannot stop himself from flinging out an arm at the next phase and knocking on, deliberately in the eyes of referee Ian Tempest. Smith lands the penalty
Tigers under the pump
The Tigers scrum is under pressure 5m, but Kalamafoni secures possession and Youngs makes 15m with his kick
Malouf can't deal with an up-and-under before Ben Youngs throws a speculative pass that is picked off by Smith. He loses possession forwards as Veainu hits him from the side.
Telusa goes Strictly Come Dancing
Wonderful dancing feet by Veainu takes him through the Quins defence but May's pass for Malouf goes to ground and the opportunity goes away. Veainu's run is worth watching on the highlights
The luck is with Mike Brown, who hits a kick deep into Tigers territory from his own half. The ball looks to be rolling dead but stops just shy of the dead-ball line in goal. Drop out to Tigers
Points for the hosts
Smith punishes Tigers with his second penalty of the game
Penalty to Quins
Harlequins maintain possession through a number of phases before Ellis Genge is pinged for going off his feet
It's eerily quiet around the Stoop, but the home side have something to get them going as Jack Clifford goes on a run down the left, where he is tackled by Nick Malouf
While Tigers' lineout has started well, Rob Buchanan is off target with his first throw. Scrum to Tigers
More on the try
Tigers had gained ground with a series of penalties, and with a well-working lineout, built a platform in the Quins 22. Veainu's angled run looked to have been stopped but his momentum took him over for his first try of the season
Conversion goes wide
Ford is unable to add the extras with a testing kick from the right touchline
Slight confusion around the Stoop as Veainu is tackled just short of the line, but his momentum took him over. The try is confirmed by the touch judge and Tigers lead for the first time!
Tigers go to the corner
Tigers are deep in Quins territory after kicking a series of penalties for territory ...
Ford brings Tigers level
... Ford lands his kick from around 40m to level the scores
Penalty to Tigers
Tigers earn a penalty at the first scrum of the game, Quins loosehead Mark Lambert going to ground. Ford going for goal ...
Quins take an early lead
... and Smith lands a simple kick to give Quins the lead
Early penalty for Quins
Veainu is swamped by Quins tacklers as he receives a pass from May 5m from his line and is whistled for holding on ...
Young Quins fly-half Marcus Smith gets us going, with Telusa Veainu collecting his kick-off
Followed by the hosts
Harlequins are now out as well. The hosts will kick-off with Tigers attacking the end to our right
The Tigers are out
Led out by captain Tom Youngs, Tigers are the first out on to the pitch
Tigers on tour
Great support, as usual, for the Tigers from the travelling fans
Kick-off moments away
The warm-ups are over. The teams are in the changing rooms for their last-minute prep. Kick-off is just round the corner
Shirt sleeve order
It's a pleasant 19C at the Twickenham Stoop as the teams go through their warm-up
The Tigers team for today
15 Telusa Veainu 14 Nick Malouf 13 Matt Smith 12 Matt Toomua 11 Jonny May 10 George Ford 9 Ben Youngs 1 Ellis Genge 2 Tom Youngs (captain) 3 Dan Cole 4 Harry Wells 5 Dom Barrow 6 Mike Williams 7 Dominic Ryan 8 Sione Kalamafoni
16 Harry Thacker 17 Greg Bateman 18 Logovi’i Mulipola 19 Luke Hamilton 20 Valentino Mapapalangi 21 Sam Harrison 22 Joe Ford 23 Mathew Tait
The Harlequins team for today
15 Mike Brown 14 Marland Yarde 13 Joe Marchant 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Charlie Walker 10 Marcus Smith 9 Danny Care 1 Mark Lambert 2 Rob Buchanan (118) 3 Will Collier 4 George Merrick 5 James Horwill (captain) 6 Chris Robshaw 7 Jack Clifford 8 Mat Luamanu
16 Dave Ward 17 Lewis Boyce 18 Kyle Sinckler 19 Charlie Matthews 20 Ben Glynn 21 Dave Lewis 22 Tim Swiel 23 Alofa Alofa
Team news ahead of kick-off
The team sheets are in