Leicester Tigers were outscored by four tries to three in a 37-24 defeat by Harlequins in Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon at the Twickenham Stoop.
An early try from Cyle Brink put Tigers in front and Jack Van Poortvliet showed his eye for an opportunity with his first senior score, but Quins claimed three of their own in the opening half to lead 30-17 at the break.
The game had looked finally balanced on the half-hour, but then Marcus Smith added 10 points from a converted try and a penalty to put his team in the driving seat and centre Andre Esterhuizen scored on the stroke of half-time to stretch that advantage.
Quins, in fine form with away victories over Wasps and Bath in recent weeks, added a fourth try at the start of the second period before George Martin claimed his first in Tigers colours.
With more than 50 points in the opening 50 minutes, the final half-hour produced no further scores and Tigers were frustrated when a lineout drive with the clock on zero fell just short at the end of an intriguing battle.
Jaco Taute led out a Tigers XV which totalled fewer appearances for the club than prop Dan Cole, who took his tally to 250 games when he entered the action during the second half. George Ford, Ellis Genge and Ben Youngs were on Six Nations duty with England across the Chertsey Road at Twickenham Stadium.
Quins made a late change on the bench where Santiago Garcia Botta was ruled out and replaced by Jordan Els.
There was an early scare for Tigers with an error at kick-off but, after then winning a penalty at a breakdown close to their own tryline, it Steve Borthwick’s team who were first on the scoreboard.
After an early penalty against Quins and then a word with their captain as tempers flared among the forwards, Tigers made a breakthrough.
From lineout ball and successive carries from Brink, plus a lunge for the tryline by Tomas Lavanini, the South African flanker got back on the ball and forced his way over for his first try in Premiership rugby with just five minutes played. Zack Henry added the conversion.
Quins replied immediately as smart handling at close range following carries by No8 Alex Dombrandt prepared the ground for Mike Brown to score. Smith kicked his first points to leave the scores at 7-7 on 11 minutes.
A break from Van Poortvliet took ball up to the five-metre line and there was plenty of support when Brown took him down. Referee Andrew Woodthorpe whistled for a fourth time in the opening 13 minutes in Tigers’ favour, but this time, after setting up a drive close-in, the defence held out.
Another penalty, this time to Quins after Joe Marler got over ball on the floor, followed and Smith added the three-pointer.
Julian Montoya won turnover ball just inside the Tigers half, but the whistle blew in the opposite direction. This time, when Quins tried to attack down the left, the Argentinian hooker repeated the effort on his own five-metre line and gained the penalty verdict.
Martin then covered a dangerous run by Danny Care to bring him down almost within reach of the tryline and Tigers gathered quickly to block recycled ball.
But quick points in the next five minutes allowed the hosts to stretch out in front.
First, Smith made it 13-7 with a penalty from the left, then the fly-half celebrated his new contract announcement by reading a break by Will Evans to score under the posts and added the extras.
Van Poortvliet’s try, following up a break from fellow academy graduate Freddie Steward, got Tigers back into the game.
It was a superb finish, picking up at a ruck and then beating Care on the right after full-back Steward had gained the initiative with his kick-chase. The conversion from Henry made it 20-14.
Spilled ball and a penalty midway inside the Tigers half brought another sight of the posts and he took his own tally to 18 points with the kick.
Henry replied after Lavanini’s work at the next ruck, but Quins closed the half with another Quins score, centre Esterhuizen powering over from a close-range scrum. Smith added the extras with a drop-kick as the actin came to a close with this team 30-17 in front.
That lead reached points when Care and Smith combined to put Louis Lynagh in for a bonus-point score with both teams a man short following yellow cards for Hanro Liebenberg and Matt Symons.
Cole emerged for his landmark appearance just before Martin dotted down his first Premiership try.
The academy graduate combined with Taute to charge down a clearing kick and was there to score when the skipper gathered and offloaded ball just short of the tryline. Henry’s extras made it 37-24 with half an hour still to play.
After seven successful kicks, Smith pushed a penalty wide, and then replacement Tommy Reffell stepped in to win valuable ball on the floor as Quins attacked in the right-hand corner.
Henry drilled a clever kick down the right to pin Quins back, but a free-kick at the ensuing lineout gave the hosts a chance to clear their lines.
Dan Kelly’s first involvement was a clean take from Smith’s dangerous kick and, from the next phase of play, Tigers had a penalty to take play back upfield.
Evans stepped in to pick off ball in a promising Tigers attack but play remained in Quins territory as Kini Murimurivalu carried purposefully in midfield with the teams still 13 points apart.
But a penalty on halfway, kicked left-footed by Esterhuizen, took Quins back into dangerous territory before some big hits virtually on the tryline shut them out.
Van Poortvliet and Martin were heavily involved as Tigers got forward once more, and Murimurivalu threatened to wriggle free out of contact before play was stopped with a penalty verdict on the Quins 22. But, after going to the corner, Tigers were frustrated by the defence about 15 metres out.
When Dombrandt intercepted on halfway, Matias Moroni had to work hard in defence to get back and block Joe Marchant.
But a scrum penalty gave the hosts one more opportunity on their right. Although Tigers forced an error with their defensive work, the referee was already playing an advantage and play came back to the five-metre line.
Tigers, though, had one last chance with two penalties taking play 70 metres upfield. The lineout drive became another penalty as play stayed in the left-hand corner but, as the blue shirts nudged towards the whitewash, ball was wrapped up under the pile of bodies and the whistle signalled the end of the game.
FULL-TIME | QUINS 37-24 TIGERS
Quins beat a resilient Leicester as the time is called on the Round 9 Gallagher Premiership fixture.
Tigers tries from Brink, Van Poortvliet and Martin aren't enough as the full-time whistle goes.
Read the full match report at LeicesterTigers.com
LATE TIGERS PRESSURE
Lavnini wins the line-out and a chance to run the maul. The back join in and Ben White comes away, finding Henry who kicks, but we'll go back for the penalty advantage.
Youngs now with the chance for the losing bonus point, and the maul is called once again. Quins drag it toward the tryline and the penalty goes Quins way as the clock turns 80.
TIGERS CHANCE TO CLEAR FROM SCRUM
Dan Cole wins the penalty in the scrum and Henry now kicks to clear Tigers lines.
Youngs with the line-out, and the maul is formed off Liebenberg. Marching forward up to the half-way line, and Ben White almost lets Henry loose, but it's fumbled by Quins in the attempt and Henry kicks for touch.
QUINS PACK WIN PENALTY
Quins win the scrum penalty and Esterhuizen kicks to touch off his left boot. Elia Elia with the line-out and Quin form the maul. Still moving forward, but the pack does well.
Mike Brown almost makes contact with a long ball out wide, but we'll go back for the penalty advantage and another scrum 10 metres out.
TIGERS DEFEND WELL
Youngs finds the back of the line-out following the strong defence and can break off the boot.
Lavanini collects in the breakdown, but is called back for the penalty and we'll have the scrum.
Quins earn the penalty at the breakdown, and will opt to scrum. Landajo feeds and win another penalty.
Landajo goes quickly, stretching Tigers finding Will Evans and Smith, who kicks long.
Steward collects and finds Murmurivalu, Henry and Kelly combine and Tigers now making the metres.
Martin forced back but keeps hold of the ball and Steward gives away the ball to Dombrant, but Moroni does well to chase down Joe Marchant.
Kelly, Youngs, Leatigaga, Wells and now Ben White all on for Tigers now.
TIGERS RUNNERS MAKE GROUND
Murimurivalu and Henry can break the line following the scrum, and Tigers go through the phases at pace.
Moroni attempts a run and Van Poortvliet has a run, the hard work is rewarded with a penalty and Henry keeps the pressure on with a kick to the corner.
QUINS FIND TOUCH 10 METRES OUT
Harry Wells concedes the penalty and Quins have a line-out. It goes long, and Marler releases Dombrant, but Liebenberg is able to grapple it free and the ball goes loose.
Ball back for another Quins line-out following the clearence and Symons comes away, but is sythed down by Martin. Wilco Louw fumbles following pressure from Tomas Lavanini and we'll have the scrum.
QUICK HANDS FOR LEICESTER
Quick hands from the big men out wide as Liebenberg and Montoya keep things moving.
Quins win the turnover through Marler and Tigers take it back in the next phase.
JVP quickens the pace and kicks but down the throat of replacement scrum-half Martin Landajo. He returns, and Henry replies but it goes straight out. Quins ball.
20 MINS ON THE CLOCK
As we head into the game's final quarter, the next try will have a massive impact on the game.
A few set-pieces slow the game down, but Baldwin throws in a line-out on the Quins left flank.
Care keeps things moving, as they go through the phases finding Marchant, Marler and Morris at turns. Smith kicks high and Dan Kelly collects and retains the ball for Tigers.
Tigers win the penalty and opt to touch.
Tigers come away following a messy scrum, and Van Poortvliet kicks long.and Quins can advance from their own half.
Tigers retain possession and Martin and Leatigaga run the lines. Henry looks for touch
TIGERS WORK IT IN DEFENCE
Following a number of scrum resets, Tigers win the turnover and JVP kicks for touch. It's collected by Brown and Quins come back.
Dombrant attempts a no-look pass from out wide, and it's a scramble at the breakdown. Nephi Leatigaga comes out on top and we'll have the penalty for the no-arms tackle. Henry finds touch.
Liebenberg and Matt Symons return following their time in the sinbin.
QUINS PENALTY - SMITH MISSES
Marcus Smith kicks at the posts but misses the attempt.
QUINS SLOW DOWN PACE
Two marks called from Mike Brown gives the chance for both teams to catch their breath.
Quins restart with Care and Smith involved throughout, Smith attempts a grubber, and Freddie Steward collects, but then gives away the penalty as Scott Baldwin works hard at the breakdown.
Both teams looking to put pressure on the back three with continued high balls to collect. Eventually Dombrant wins the penalty as Murimurivalu charges down.
TIGERS UP TO 24
Zack Henry adds the points and Tigers respond again with plenty of time left on the clock.
GEORGE MARTIN SCORES FOR TIGERS
Jaco Taute hands an easy run in for George Martin, who wins the charge down orginally and is on hand to reap the rewards.
Dan Cole comes on for Joe Heyes to making his 250th appearance in a Tigers shirt. A huge achievement for the man born and bred Tigers.
QUINS 37-17 TIGERS
Marcus Smith kicks the points having assisted the try and Quins extend their lead with plenty of time left on the clock.
TRY FOR HARLEQUINS
Louis Lynagh runs in in the corner and places the ball under the posts as Harlequins kick off the second half with an early try and bonus point score.
YELLOW FOR BOTH TEAMS
Simmons and Liebenberg both show the yellow for persistent clashes off the ball.
YELLOWS FOR BOTH TEAMS
Simmons and Liebenberg both show the yellow for persistent clashes off the ball.
HENRY KICKS OFF THE SECOND HALF
Zack Henry kicks off Tigers as they look to turn the game in their favour. No changes as we strap in for another 40 minutes.
QUINS LEAD AT THE BREAK
Three tries for Quins and two for Tigers leave it all to play for in the second half. Quins 30-17 Tigers.
SMITH EXTENDS LEAD AT HT
Smith makes it 30 for Quins as half-time is called at The Stoop.
QUINS STRIKE ON HALF-TIME
Andre Esterhuizen finds the space following a short 'no-look' throw from Care and Quins extend their lead in the half's final play.
QUINS SCRUM IN FINAL PLAY
Quins with a chance on the Tigers 22, following the penalty and Care feeds the ball in.
Care finds Mike Brown who find Morris and Moroni does well to hold up. Quins have the penalty advantage following the breakdown, and they choose the scrum once again.
HENRY RESPONDS FROM THE TEE
Whatever Smith can do, Henry matches with a kick from the tee following the penalty from the restart.
Marcus Smith again kicks successfully from the tee as Quins lead the Tigers.
ONE TRY GAME
The pace of the game quickens with just one try in this now.
Van Poortvliet involved again and finding touch, but Moroni fumbles the return kick and Quins can have an attempt at the sticks.
HENRY ADDS THE EXTRAS
Tigers now back within six points thanks to Zack Henry's conversion. Quins 20-14 Tigers.
JVP REACTS FOR TIGERS
It's the young scrum-half who finds a gap from the restart and shows great vision from the dummy on Matt Simmons and Leicester right back in this.
QUINS 20-7 TIGERS
Smith adds the extras and Tigers now 13 points behind.
SMITH SCORES FOR QUINS
Will Evans with the carry finds Marcus Smith who can run under the sticks for Harlequins as they extend their lead further with just ten minutes of the second half left.
We have a scrum following the restart and Smith receives it out the back before finding touch.
Liebenberg wins the line-out and JVP can collect the spill. He opts to box-kick and Aaron Morris wins the penalty as Moroni challenges in the air.
QUINS LEAD EXTENDED
Marcus Smith is three from three, as Quins go back for the penalty advantage. Quins 13-7 Tigers.
QUINS STRETCH TIGERS
Liebenberg collects from the base of the scrum and runs out from the Tigers tryline. It's kicked long eventually and Quins now have the ball on the halfway line.
Louis Lynagh and Danny Care break the line and Tigers stretched at the back. Moroni and Van Poortvliet putting the pressure on the backline and force the mistake.
Quins still have the ball with the line-out. The maul forms and following the phase, Steward almost nicks the interception. But we'll go back for the penalty advantage to Harlequins.
The Tigers defence hold their own as Cyle Brink stands strong at the breakdown. Tigers will have the scrum.
Some huge hits to stop the advancing Dombrant and Esterhuizen, by Lavanini and then Liebenberg.
QUINS QUICKEN THE PACE
Tigers aiming for touch when possible as they look to gain the territory. Jaco Taute gives away the penalty in the centre, and Smith taps to go.
Montoya is then penalised in the breakdown for not rolling away and Smith opts for the corner as Quins quicken the pace.
TEAMS SCRAPPING FOR POSSESSION
It's a little scrappy from the restart with both teams playing the kick-chase before the ball is forced out by Quins.
Baldwin with the line-out, Smith with the dink out of the scrum, but Steward collects for Tigers.
Zack Henry finds Murmurivalu...just as Louis Lynagh almost nicks the intercept.
QUINS TAKE LEAD
Marcus Smith punishes Tigers kicking his second from the tee today. Quins 10-7 Tigers.
Quins opt for touch and Baldwin throw in. Dombrant makes a nuisance of himself in the maul, and Care kicks clear.
Tigers now with ball in hand, but George Martin is upheaved by Joe Marler.
Tigers matched forward 10 metres and a chance for the posts now for Marcus Smith...
VAN POORTVLIET BREAKS THE LINE..
The young scrum-half breaks the line following the restart and steps past the Quins full-back before being held up by the stretch of Mike Brown.
The resulting line-out from the clearence, releases Matt Scott, before Brink and Heyes have a run each.
George Martin has an attempt and then Lavanini, but Quins win the turnover, just when Tigers turned up the heat.
Marcus Smith levels the scores at The Stoop.
Mike Brown is able to capitalise on some early pressure from Quins. Dombrant involved heavily through the phases and Marcus Smith's quick hands find Brown to the right of the posts.
Quins with the line-out, Esterhuizen finds Dombrant and Quins with a chance to apply the pressure.
STRONG START BY TIGERS
Tigers look up for this today, as they fight hard to retain the ball from the restart.
The penalty leads to the game's first scrum in Quins favour, and Danny Care attempts to get the ball moving. But it's lost at Jack Van Poortvliet kicks clear.
QUINS 0-7 TIGERS
Zack Henry starts off where he finished last week with another clean kick from the tee. Tigers lead by seven.
TRY FOR TIGERS
Cyle Brink started and finished the move following a driving run off the line-out. He's able to go over after some hard work from the heavy's and opens the scoring at The Stoop.
The Tigers forward pack playing for the metres and Lavanini almost finds the paintwork.
But they retain the ball and Cyle Brink is able to find a gap.
TIGERS IN THE CORNER...
The referee calms things down and we restart with another kick to the corner. The line-out is good and Green and Brink with the chance to power on.
Tigers still with the ball with the heavy's playing the short game...
EARLY DEFENSIVE WORK FOR TIGERS
Calum Green collects in the breakdown following immediate pressure from the Quins kick-off.
Henry finds touch and double-try scorer last week Julian Montoya throws in from the touchline. Another penalty and another chance for Montoya.
Two or three groups split up as tensions boil over...
KICK OFF AT THE STOOP
We're underway at The Stoop with Tigers kitted out in the striking blue change kit.
Marcus Smith kicks off the home side...
DAN COLE SET FOR GAME 250
Tighthead and local lad Dan Cole, 33, will reach the 250th appearence milestone for Tigers from the bench should he come on today, more than 13 years since his debut for the club he grew up watching as a young South Leicester player
Read what his teammates and colleagues had to say about the achievement – CLICK HERE
#TIGERSATHOME – SEND YOUR SNAPS
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Upload your photo in your Tigers kits to the #TigersFamily screen which can be found in the ‘SEND A PHOTO’ tab on the main menu.
Everyone who shares their #TigersAtHome photos (or videos) will be automatically entered into our prize draw ahead of each home fixture to win a Matchday Pack worth £100.
THE HOME TEAM LINE-UP
See how our opponents line up...
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown (342), 14 Louis Lynagh (6), 13 Joe Marchant (98), 12 Andre Esterhuizen (10), 11 Aaron Morris (56), 10 Marcus Smith (95), 9 Danny Care (291); 1 Joe Marler (210), 2 Scott Baldwin (27), 3 Simon Kerrod (35), 4 Matt Symons (49), 5 Stephan Lewies (23), 6 Archie White (34), 7 Will Evans (30), 8 Alex Dombrandt (61)
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia (61), 17 Santiago Garcia Botta (28), 18 Wilco Louw (13), 19 Glen Young (29), 20 Richard de Carpentier (3), 21 Martin Landajo (24), 22 Brett Herron (15), 23 Ben Tapuai (34)
TAUTE TODAY'S CAPTAIN
There’s four changes to the matchday squad which defeated Worcester Warriors at Mattioli Woods Welford Road last weekend, including a new captain in Jaco Taute.
Luan de Bruin and Julián Montoya retain their places in the front row and are joined by Joe Heyes at tighthead prop.
Calum Green joined by Argentina international Tomás Lavanini in an unchanged second row, with Hanro Liebenberg at No.8 and countryman Cyle Brink retaining his spot at openside flanker.
Tigers Academy graduate George Martin comes in to the back row at blindside.
Jack Van Poortvliet starts alongside Zack Henry and, in the midfield, skipper Taute is joined by fellow international Matt Scott with Freddie Steward at full-back.
International duo Kini Murimurivalu and Matías Moroni start on the wings.
Leicester Tigers only defeat in the last four Rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby was at home to Sale on 29 January, not counting the declared win over Northampton in Round 6.
It will be a tough outing for Steve Borthwick’s men with Harlequins unbeaten in their last three fixtures with the Tigers since Leicester’s 35-24 home victory in December 2018.
TIGERS ON THE ROAD | HALF-HOUR TIL KO
Good afternoon and welcome to Matchday Live bringing you all the action as it happens of Leicester Tigers away trip to Harlequins.
We’re coming live from the capital at The Stoop for Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership with Steve Borthwick’s men looking to make it back-to-back wins.