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Pearce's late try secures home win for Tigers

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Laurence Pearce's late try saw Leicester Tigers battle back from behind against Harlequins to earn a first home win of the new Aviva Premiership season.

Pearce finished off a lineout drive eight minutes from time, with Owen Williams landing the touchline conversion, to give Tigers a 22-19 win at Welford Road on Sunday afternoon.
 
Despite leading for much of the first half through four penalties by Tommy Bell, Tigers trailed 13-12 at half-time after Jack Clifford scored from a lineout drive for the visitors.
 
And with Nick Evans kicking expertly, Quins threatened to inflict a first home defeat in 19 games on the Tigers. But Evans missed a penalty to give Quins a seven-point lead with 15 minutes left, which proved a pivotal moment and Tigers took full advantage.

Owen Williams found a 5m touch with a penalty from an almost impossible angle which allowed the forwards to set up the platform for Pearce’s match-winning score.

The result lifted Tigers to second in the table behind leaders Saracens, the only two unbeaten teams after Round Two of the Aviva Premiership season.
 
World Cup trio Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Vereniki Goneva returned to the squad, with Youngs and Goneva in the starting XV and Cole named on the bench.
 
Peter Betham, Mike Fitzgerald, Mike Williams and Lachlan McCaffrey made their home debuts in league action. Academy scrum-half Ben White was named on the bench as he looked to make his first-team debut.
 
There were some big hits early on with Seremaia Bai going off for treatment after being on the receiving end from No8 Mat Luamanu. Owen Williams replaced him for his first home appearance in more than eight months after recovering from a knee injury.
 
Betham was lively in the opening stages and his break almost led to the first try. The Argentina wing found Goneva before Bell darted for the posts but was held up just short.
 
Tigers were awarded the scrum put-in and then won a penalty when scrum-half Karl Dickson went offside as he tried to disrupt at the base. Bell landed a simple kick to give Leicester a 3-0 lead after 10 minutes.
 
It was a short-lived lead, Nick Evans landing his first penalty following Tom Croft’s accidental offside to level the scores.
 
Bell restored Tigers’ three-point lead with his second penalty after Quins failed to release in the tackle. It then took a cool head by McCaffrey to secure the ball at a messy restart and Owen Williams found touch inside the Quins half.
 
A scrum penalty on halfway gave Bell a third kick at goal, and he cleared the posts by some distance to move Tigers 9-3 ahead midway through the first half.
 
The game was punctuated by the whistle of referee Thomas Foley, and Tigers were next to offend when Mulipola was pinged as he contested at a breakdown. Evans, the former All Blacks fly-half, knocked over his kick to cut Tigers’ lead to 9-6.
 
Tigers enjoyed an excellent period of pressure during which Mathew Tait punched a hole in the Quins defence but was unable to free his arms to send Harrison away. At the next phase, Bell launched a bomb on Charlie Walker that was knocked-on by Mike Williams. Referee Foley came back for an earlier penalty and Bell restored Leicester’s six-point lead 12 minutes before the break.
 
Tigers survived a huge scare when Tait’s last-ditch tackle stopped Dave Ward just short of the line. Dickson took a quick penalty but again Tigers stood firm with Adam Thompstone knocking-on as he tackled George Lowe man-and-ball.
 
Quins won a penalty at the scrum and went for the corner. Tigers defended the initial drive but Jack Clifford peeled round the corner to score from close range. Evans added the conversion to give Harlequins a 13-12 lead five minutes before half-time.
 
Tigers showed plenty of ambition in attack but were unable to make the most of half breaks by Owen Williams and Betham.
 
They were strong on their own scrum put-in and won a penalty right at the end of the first half when Luke Wallace broke away too early. But Bell’s long-range effort struck the right-hand post.
 
McCaffrey was whistled for holding on at the start of the second half and Evans maintained his 100 per cent kicking record to extend the Harlequins lead to 16-12. Tigers struck back when Quins infringed at a breakdown and Bell landed the penalty from the right to leave Tigers one point behind.
 
Cole was introduced for Balmain at the first scrum of the second-half before Quins brought on their England World Cup internationals Danny Care, Joe Marler and Nick Easter as well as front-rowers Kyle Sinckler and Joe Gray.
 
The new Quins forwards made an instant impact, mauling their way into the Tigers 22 before switching play to the left where Walker was unable to clutch the final pass.
 
Instead, referee Foley pinged Croft as he competed at a breakdown close to halfway and Evans’ measured kick moved the visitors 19-15 ahead after 56 minutes.
 
Quins were on top at this stage and it needed quick thinking by Bell to run Lowe’s grubber into touch 5m from the Leicester line under pressure from Marland Yarde. It was Bell’s last contribution, the fly-half hurting his leg as he tumbled into touch. Owen Williams moved to fly-half with Smith coming on at centre.
 
Tigers were whistled at the resulting lineout but Evans dragged his kick across the posts to leave Tigers 19-15 behind with 18 minutes remaining.
 
Referee Foley consulted his television match official when Marler tackled Owen Williams after a clearance from his own 22. He awarded the penalty where the ball landed but chose not to issue a card.
 
Now Tigers were on top with a series of 5m penalty lineouts, as Quins infringed in defence but the visitors stole possession and the fourth lineout and Care cleared.
 
There was plenty of tension around Welford Road as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
 
Owen Williams produced a brilliant penalty kick to find touch 5m from the Quins line and raise the noise levels around the stadium. And the noise levels got even louder when Tigers got the drive going and Pearce finished for Tigers’ first try of the Aviva Premiership campaign. Owen Williams landed the conversion to put Tigers 22-19 ahead with eight minutes left.
 
It was a chaotic period in the game with McCaffrey winning possession at the restart before knocking on and Harrison then forcing a knock-on in the tackle for Betham to find touch.
 
Tigers finished the game with 14 men, Harrison receiving a yellow card for pulling down a Quins maul that had made a good 10m and threatened the Leicester line. Quins went to the corner but this time Tigers defended the drive well and won the scrum put-in 5m from their line.
 
Academy scrum-half White came on for Thompstone for his first-team debut as the clock ticked into the final two minutes. At 17 years and 151 days, White became Tigers' youngest-ever Premiership player and the second youngest in the competition after Dave Doherty.

And he showed calm nerves to follow Pearce’s pick-up at the back of the scrum and feed Williams, who found touch on halfway.
 
Tigers disrupted the lineout and it was left to Williams to bring an end to a tension-filled finale.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 12-13 HAR

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 22-19 HAR

Attendance

17,510

Referee

Tom Foley

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
22

Full Time

Harlequins
Harlequins
19

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Harlequins
Possession
57%
43%
Territory
53%
47%
Penalties Conceded
14
13
Yellow Cards
1
0
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
93/111 84%
115/125 92%
Scrums Won
7/8 88%
3/3 100%
Lineouts Won
10/10 0%
11/11 0%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Harlequins
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Mathew Tait
14Adam Thompstone
13Peter Betham
12Seremaia Bai
11Vereniki Goneva
10Tommy Bell5P
9Sam Harrison
1Logovi'i Mulipola
2Tom Youngs
3Fraser Balmain
4Michael Fitzgerald
5
6Mike Williams
7Tom Croft
8Lachlan McCaffrey
16Harry Thacker
17Riccardo Brugnara
18Dan Cole
19Joe Maksymiw
20Laurence Pearce1T
21Ben White
22Owen Williams1C
23Matt Smith

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Peter Betham
13
Peter Betham
Seremaia Bai
12
Seremaia Bai
Vereniki Goneva
11
Vereniki Goneva
Tommy Bell
10
Tommy Bell
Fraser Balmain
3
Fraser Balmain
5
Lachlan McCaffrey
8
Lachlan McCaffrey

Subs

Riccardo Brugnara
17
Riccardo Brugnara
Laurence Pearce
20
Laurence Pearce
Owen Williams
22
Owen Williams

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Mike Brown
14
Marland Yarde
13
George Lowe
12
Harry Sloan
11
Charlie Walker
10
Nick Evans
9
Karl Dickson
1
Mark Lambert
2
Dave Ward
3
Adam Jones
4
James Horwill
5
Sam Twomey
6
7
Luke Wallace
8
Mathew Luamanu

Subs

16
Joe Gray
17
Joe Marler
18
Kyle Sinckler
19
20
Nick Easter
21
Danny Care
22
Ben Botica
23
Ollie Lindsay-Hague
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
4
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI2214085094753455486365
7
Harlequins
HarlequinsHAR2210111547583-3655666755
Form Guide
Form
WLWLW
Last Match
Beat Wasps 38-31
Past Meeting
Won 35-29
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WLWWW
Last Match
Beat Exeter Chiefs 40-38
Past Meeting
Lost 29-35

Matchday Live

Leicester Tigers22
Leicester Tigers
Harlequins19
Harlequins
Full Time