Leicester Tigers chased down a 14-point deficit to earn a 30-30 draw against Harlequins at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday.
Echoing the outcome of Big Game 1 back in 2008, Tigers and Quins shared the points and the six tries in Round 7 of the Gallagher Premiership season at Big Game 12.
Two penalties for George Ford, with the Tigers pack having much the better of the set-piece tussles, put the visitors 6-3 in front before Quins found a breakthrough from centre Paul Lasike around the half-hour and they led 13-6 at the break.
An opportunist score from Kyle Eastmond provided a lifeline early in the second half, only for Quins to add two of their own to lead by 14 points before the hour mark.
But then a try for Jordan Taufua – his second in successive matches – got Tigers back into it once more and Telusa Veainu scored to tie the scores on 73 minutes.
Tigers, in their alternate fluoro-red kit, received kick-off but they were three points down in the opening five minutes after Marcus Smith kicked a penalty following a high tackle.
Just moments later, Quins were forced into an early change when Michele Campagnaro pulled up as Kyle Eastmond blocked his progress near halfway and there was a lengthy pause as the Italian received treatment and then left the field to be replaced by Gabriel Ibitoye.
The game restarted with a scrum and then a penalty award to Tigers. As Ford kicked down the left touchline, Calum Green took the lineout catch and the whistle went again, allowing Ford to kick the scores level.
Tigers also made a change after a collision between Ford and Sione Kalamafoni chasing a chip from Danny Care ended with the big Tongan leaving the field, with Tommy Reffell on from the bench.
Sam Lewis made a timely tackle to take Niki Goneva into touch 30 metres out and then charged down a Care box-kick before two more scrums brought two more penalties.
But there was little flow to the game as the whistle went again, this time for a high tackle on Tom Youngs, and Ford made it 6-3 with a 40-metre kick on 25 minutes.
Lewis was back in action at the other end as he won the race to a kick through from Care. But the resulting scrum brought the breakthrough score for the hosts, Care passing short for centre Lasike to barge his way over. Smith’s kick made it 10-6.
The young fly-half added a penalty on 35 minutes after Adam Thompstone’s good work in defence stalled one attack only for the Tigers backline to be found offside 15 metres out.
Tigers ended the half attacking through phases on the Quins 22 until spilled ball in a central position allowed Care to kick out and end the opening period.
Ford got the second half started and four minutes later, Eastmond read a Harlequins offload from Kyle Sinckler and ran 50 metres to score. Ford’s conversion levelled the scores at 13-13.
Sinckler quickly responded with a dangerous charge on the right and Quins kept the ball through phases in attack before hooker Elia Elia was held up over the tryline after Ben Youngs made a vital tackle out wide.
But, as in the first half when they were denied initially but scored from the scrum, this time they used space out to the right for Smith to find his way to the tryline. The fly-half added the extras for a 20-13 lead on 50 minutes.
A counter-attack from Chisholm in broken field threatened until Ford ripped ball in contact with Jonny May tacking hard in defence.
Reffell made an important intervention when Chisholm broke again and Dan Cole’s work on the floor then knocked ball loose as Care threatened again.
Noel Reid and Tatafu Polota-Nau entered the action from the bench as tryscorer Eastmond and skipper Tom Youngs made way on 54 minutes, but it was only another minute before a crucial score for Chris Robshaw to the right of the posts pushed Quins further in front. Smith added another conversion with his team 27-13 in front.
Two more scrum penalties gave Tigers field position down the left and this time, after Lavanini’s lineout take, the forwards barged through with Taufua applying the final touch for the try. Ford added a nice conversion to bring it back to a one-score game at 27-20 with 20 minutes to go.
Tigers, though, gave away a penalty after a fumble at the restart and Smith’s penalty made it six from six attempts at goal and a 10-point lead.
Ellis Genge made a big carry back upfield and, when Quins were whistled for offside, Ford kicked a 35-metre penalty to make it 30-23.
Strong work from Taufua and Reffell in defence wrapped up Quins ball and gave Tigers put-in at another scrum which ended with another whistle and a yellow card for home prop Will Collier after a warning from referee Matthew Carley.
Tigers, though, spilled ball as they caught the lineout just inside Quins territory and the game restarted with a scrum, though Quins had to call for a front-row replacement in Collier’s absence and leave the backline a man short.
The referee continue to wrestle with the front rows at scrum-time, but eventually Tigers made use of a big push and a penalty advantage to release Veainu to score, latching on to Ford’s chip kick. The England fly-half added the kick to level the scores at 30-30 entering the last 10 minutes.
With the clock ticking into the final two minutes, Quins threatened the line chasing a bonus-point score and inched closer and closer before finally losing ball five metres out with Tigers flying into their tackles.
Tigers safely won ball from the scrum on their own line and Ben White kicked out 25 metres upfield. There was still work to do at the lineout, but the visiting pack wrapped up maul ball to bring the final whistle and some reward for the day's efforts.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Thank you for following our Matchday Live coverage this afternoon, and for all of your support in 2019.
We'll see you again in the New Year as Tigers take on Bristol Bears at Welford Road next Saturday, January 4 (1.00pm).
FULL TIME | 30-30
Tigers share the spoils from a nerve-wracking clash at Twickenham in Round 7 of this season's Gallagher Premeirship.
FINAL FEW MOMENTS
Quins set from the lineout, but they can't break through the Leicester line ... and they give away the penalty! That's full time, and it's a 30-all draw at Twickenham.
ON THE LINE
The Tigers pack gobble up possession from the five-metre scrum, and the forwards do a good job of protecting scrum-half White as he kicks clear for a lineout beyond the 22.
SEARCHING FOR THE WIN
Tigers show fantastic discipline in defence to keep Harlequins out for more than two minutes of sustained pressure up to the tryline, but the ball is lost in the tackle and Leicester can breathe a sigh of relief ... for now.
The restart goes awry, and Harlequins can push up once more. Goneva comes in field for a taste of the action, but he's stopped in his tracks as Tigers close the door.
LEVEL AT TWICKENHAM
Two more points from the boot of Ford, and Tigers are back in this game. All square at HQ.
VEAINU GALLOPS IN!
Tigers get another massive nudge on from the scrum, win the advantage, and Ford chips over the top to a grateful Telusa Veainu, who dives over to score.
HANDBAGS AT DAWN
Jeers from the crowd as both teams take exception at the scrum not going entirely smoothly, and referee Carley will have a word with both front rows.
Tigers win the free kick from the reset, and under the watchful eye of scrum coach Boris Stankovich, opt for another go.
Harlequins sacrifice centre Lasike to bring Santiago Garcia Botta into the front row for another scrum, with Marler shifting to tighthead.
THREE TIGERS CHANGES
Head coach Geordan Murphy swaps both of his props, as internationals Facundo Gigena and Nephi Leatigaga replace England men Ellis Genge and Dan Cole, while George Worth takes the place of Jaco Taute.
YELLOW CARD | WILL COLLIER
Will Collier is shown a yellow card for repeated infringements at the scrum, and Tigers will kick downfield.
TAUFUA CLINGS ON
The home side go on the attack once more, and fold this way and that before try-scorer Taufua gets hold of the ball - and stays that way. The New Zealander wins the ball on the floor to set up a Tigers scrum.
WELLS FOR LEWIS
One Tigers Academy graduate replaces another, as Harry Wells joins the game in place of the impressive Sam Lewis.
TIGERS CREEP BACK
Ford's successful penalty nudges Tigers back to within seven points.
BABY RHINO ON THE CHARGE
Veainu claims a high ball at the back and feeds Ellis Genge, who gets up to speed before slipping past four Quins defenders on his way.
The home side concede a penalty of their own, and Ford will have a shot at goal.
CHANGE AT SCRUM-HALF
Ben Youngs is replaced by Ben White at scrum-half for Tigers.
Marcus Smith hits back immediately with a three-pointer after Tigers concede at the restart.
THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS
Ford converts and brings Tigers back within seven points.
TAUFUA BUNDLES OVER
Tigers set from the throw, and Jordan Taufua splits out the back of a strong maul to bundle over for a score.
CHANGE AT HOOKER
Jack Musk replaces Elia Elia in the Quins front row.
ROUND THE CORNER
Lewis bats a lineout throw back, and replacement hooker Polota-Nau plucks it out of the air to hammer round the corner.
Scrum-half Youngs switches play back the other way, but Harlequins knock-on once more in going for the interception - no yellow card, though - and we'll have another lineout attempt, further down the field.
BACK ROW SWAP
Alex Dombrandt joins the fray, in place of James Chisholm.
SCRUM ON HALFWAY
Tigers just can't seem to get going here. A knock-on over halfway is followed up by a Harlequins handling error, so we'll restart with a scrum right in the centre of the field.
QUINS CHANGE TWO
Kyle Sinckler is helped from the field as he is replaced by Will Collier, and Matt Symons cedes his place in the second row to No19 Tevita Cavubati.
Two more points from the boot of fly-half Smith extend Harlequins' lead.
TRY NUMBER THREE
Harlequins have a third try, as Chris Robshaw crashes over off the back of the set-piece.
TWO TIGERS CHANGES
Tatafu Polota-Nau and Noel Reid are onto the field, in place of captain Tom Youngs and try-scorer Kyle Eastmond.
PAUSE IN PLAY
Another Harlequins run cuts through, this time on the left, and Tommy Reffell is deployed over the top of the ruck to disrupt ball, which he does.
CROWD ONTO THEIR FEET
Back-rower James Chisholm sniffs a gap in the Leicester line and makes metres over halfway, but the Tigers defence scrambles back in the nick of time.
Possession is stolen, and the ball is hacked away for an Elia throw on the 10-metre line.
TWO MORE FROM THE TEE
Smith converts his own try, and Quins have a seven-point lead once more.
SMITH SPINS OVER
Tigers keep the Quins scrum back on the five-metre line, but the ball gets out to fly-half Smith who spins around the posts to finish off his side's second try.
Harlequins look to hit back immediately, as Kyle Sinckler bursts through on the right to set up a decent surge to the line, before a one-on-one on the left gives the home side a chance to crash over the line.
Elia Elia has the ball, but he can't get the ball dow n through a forest of Leicester bodies.
ALL SQUARE AT TWICKENHAM
Ford's conversion draws the scores level at the start of this second half.
Kyle Eastmond makes a brilliant read of a loose Harlequins pass, and races home for an intercept try to put Tigers back in this game.
EARLY PRESSURE FROM QUINS
Tigers are under pressure immediately in the second half, and Ford's clearance kick is claimed by Goneva, who tries to dink one through on the left, though Chisholm can't get there before it bobbles into touch. Leicester throw.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY
George Ford gets the second half underway at Twickenham.
MATCH ACTION | LEWIS GETS BACK
Sam Lewis - included in this afternoon's team after standout performances in Europe - did a brilliant job of tracking back to stop an almost certain Harlequins score in the first half.
Here he is, dotting the ball down, under pressure from Tom Lawday.
HALF TIME | 13-6
Harlequins have a slender lead at the break at Twickenham, but two first-half penalties keep Tigers in this game.
FROM THE SET-PIECE
Dan Cole and Joe Marler might be good mates in England camp, but there's no love lost between them in club colours. The Tigers tighthead gets a good shove on at the scrum, and Leicester use the ball to great effect off the back of the set-piece.
Harlequins looks to break up the field off the restart, but Ross Chicholm's final pass out for Goneva goes a mile forward, and Tom Youngs will have a throw-in as we approach half time.
PENALTY FOR QUINS
...and the ball is through. Three more points to Quins, who now lead 13 points to six.
UNDER THE POSTS
The home side creep forward and up under the Tigers posts, but Carley puts the brakes on the game when he blows for offside from the Tigers defenders.
Smith eyes up the posts for a simple three-pointer.
PENALTY ON THE FLOOR
...but Tigers give away a penalty just moments later as skipper Tom Youngs is adjudged to have come into a breakdown at the side. Harlequins back in possession in the Tigers 22.
Goneva claims a George Ford territory-finder, but Quins can't break through the Leicester line with their heavy carriers, and Adam Thompstone claims possession on the near side.
Fly-half Smith adds the extras from the tee, and Harlequins lead 10 points to six with half an hour played.
The home side use the ball off the back of their scrum, and inside centre Paul Lasike crashes over for the first try of the match.
Both teams will have another bite of the cherry as Matthew Carley points to the turf for a reset scrum.
HERO OF THE HOUR
Sam Lewis, take a bow. Danny Care nudges a ball through for Harlequins to dot down beyond the Tigers tryline, but the young back-rower gets there first to force a five-metre scrum.
THREE MORE POINTS
Tigers take the lead as Ford splits the uprights once more.
BACKS INTO THE GAME
After a scrappy few moments - including a charge down of a Ford kick, then claimed by Ellis Genge - Tigers put the ball through the hands as Kyle Eastmond feeds Telusa Veainu out on the left.
The run doesn't come to anything on this occasion, but Tigers have another peanlty after a high shot from tighthead Sinckler. Ford points to posts.
QUINS WIN IT BACK
Lewis gets the ball this time, and referee Matthew Carley initially raises an arm in Tigers' favour as Harlequins seem to push early, but the home side come away with the ball and work up the pitch.
ANOTHER HUGE SCRUM!
Leicester put the heat on at the scrum and drive Quins off their own ball, and gives Ford the opportunity to drill another touch-finder into the corner. Take two, anyone?
WORK ON THE FLOOR
Lavanini climbs highest to claim Tom Youngs' throw, and an initially well-set maul is brought down by the Quins forwards.
GENGE ON SINCKLER
Ellis Genge wins another scrum penalty against Sinckler, and Ford drills the ball deep into the home 22.
LAVANINI'S LONG LEVERS
Argentina lock Lavanini has played a big part in this game so far - on both sides of the ball - and he puts pay to another Quins attack when he charges down a Danny Care box kick. Nice.
And Youngs passes the ball directly to World Cup colleague George Ford as Tigers win a free kick at the scrum, before either pack has engaged. Looks like it's fellow England international Kyle Sinckler who has been penalised.
Harlequins come away with the ball from the scrum, and ship it out quickly to the right where Ibitoye is waiting - but Tomás Lavanini is ready and waiting just a couple of phases later to snuff out the latest attack.
The ball is worked back towards the Twickenham tunnel, but Goneva knocks on and we'll have another scrum. Ben Youngs to feed.
Marcus Smith tries to show and go, but Kyle Eastmond is there to dislodge the ball to win a scrum just inside the Quins half.
Another good nudge from the Tigers set-piece, and the ball is booted down the field for territory. Danny Care digs it out of the ruck and returns the ball, with neither side able to travel much past halfway at the moment.
Kalamafoni is up and onto his feet and keen to play on, but he's taken off for some precautionary checks, and replaced by Tommy Reffell.
The Wales U20s international will pack down on the flank, with Jordan Taufua shifting to No8.
AGAINST THE RUN OF PLAY
The home side press up the field once more, and use former Tigers wing Vereniki Goneva for the first time down the left.
But the ball is intercepted by Calum Green in midfield as they come back the other way, and there's a pause for a nasty-looking aerial collision between team-mates Ford and Kalamafoni a couple of phases later.
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO...
George Ford responds with a penalty goal of his own, to make it 3-all here at Twickenham.
Tigers set up a nice drive off the lineout, make a few metres, and then opt for some heavy-duty runners out the back. Jordan Taufua and back-row colleague Kalamafoni both fancy a run, before Harlequins give away a penalty that gives Ford the chance to even the scores.
The game restarts with a first scrum, and Sione Kalamafoni keeps the ball in as the pack put the squeeze on ... and win the penalty. George Ford kicks to the corner.
Harlequins centre Michele Campagnaro is forced off with what looks like a knee injury, and he is replaced by No23 Gabriel Ibitoye.
The home side push on up the right but find nothing but a fluoro-red wall, and hooker Tom Youngs forces the knock-on.
THREE FOR QUINS
Marcus Smith slots the penalty kick for the first three-pointer of the afternoon.
THROUGH THE HANDS
Harlequins opt to put the ball through hands and make the most of some early possession, and soon win the advantage for a high tackle on captain Chris Robshaw.
They chip through behind Tigers lines and the ball is taken well, but we'll come back for a shot at the posts.
The first penalty of the game goes the home side's way, as Tomás Lavanini is pinged for not releasing his man on the floor.
The kick-off is taken well in the Leicester backfield, and scrum-half Ben Youngs kicks to safety for an early lineout.
KICK OFF IN ROUND 7
Marcus Smith boots the ball into the Twickenham air to get the game going, and we're underway.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
There's a roar from the Twickenham crowd as both teams run out onto the field; flashing lights, fire cannons and all.
We're ready to go in the final game of 2019.
DOWN THE TUNNEL
Both sides are back into the dressing rooms ahead of this afternoon's Big Game. Only moments to go, now!
FINAL WARM-UPS UNDERWAY
Tigers are running through their final preparations out on the Twickenham pitch, with less than 10 minutes to go until kick-off in Round 7.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
Tigers opt only for tweaks to the side that went up against Exeter last time out, with Kyle Eastmond and Jaco Taute forming a new-look centre partnership in the absence of Manu Tuilagi.
Calum Green shifts back into the second row, freeing up a Sam Lewis-sized hole alongside Jordan Taufua and Sione Kalamafoni in the back three of the scrum.
Harlequins give a first Premiership start to former Tigers wing Vereniki Goneva, while scrum-half Danny Care becomes the only player to feature in all 12 editions of the Big Game.
You can see the full match line-ups by clicking here, or scrolling down on this page.
TOM TALKS UP TWICKENHAM TUSSLE
After going toe-to-toe with Gallagher Premiership table-toppers Exeter Chiefs in Round 6, club captain Tom Youngs has previewed the ‘huge game’ that awaits the Leicester squad at England Rugby’s HQ.
“I think the game against Exeter is probably one of the best games we’ve played this season, certainly in the first 50 or 60 minutes, but unfortunately we just couldn’t quite get a foothold in the last quarter,” the hooker said.
“What we need to do better against Quins is ride those momentums a little bit better, so you don’t go negative, negative, negative – you go from a negative into a positive.
“We showed what we want to be about in the first 50, 60 minutes. Now it’s about making the final touches and doing it for the full 80.”
You can read more of the skipper’s match preview here.
BIG GAME PREVIEW
More than a decade since appearing in the first ‘Big Game’ date with Harlequins at Twickenham Stadium, Leicester Tigers return to the national stadium in Round 7 of the Gallagher Premiership season.
Now led by former Tigers back-rower Paul Gustard – a housemate of Geordan Murphy when they both first arrived in Leicester in the late 1990s – the two sides do battle once more this afternoon, in the final game of 2019.
Read our Big Game preview here, or scroll down on this page.
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
Welcome to Twickenham as Tigers face Harlequins in Round 7 of this season’s Gallagher Premiership, with kick-off to come at 4.30pm.
You can follow all the action as it happens with our Matchday Live coverage, right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.