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Tigers return to top four with win over Quins

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Leicester Tigers returned to the top four of the Aviva Premiership after a 25-6 victory over Harlequins in difficult conditions at a sold-out Welford Road.

In a game played in heavy rain, Tigers eased to victory with solid second-half performance in which they scored 16 unanswered points.
 
Owen Williams scored the only try, finishing off Freddie Burns’s clever kick, for his second of the season. Burns kicked the rest of the points with the conversion, a drop goal and five penalties.

Results elsewhere over the weekend had seen Tigers fall out of the play-off places, but the victory in front of a capacity home crowd moved Leicester back into the top four after eight rounds.

England internationals Tom Youngs, Tom Croft and Ellis Genge returned to the starting XV. Croft made his first league appearance of the season and his 100th start in the Premiership for Tigers as he continued his return from a back injury. Ed Slater, Mike Fitzgerald and Lachlan McCaffrey were also back in the forward pack.

Adam Thompstone made his 100th Tigers appearance in a backline which welcomed back Mathew Tait and Tom Brady, while Jono Kitto started at scrum-half. South Africa international prop Pat Cilliers was included in a Premiership squad for the first time.
 
Tait made an instant impression when he rose high to pull Karl Dickson’s kick out of the leaden sky and threaten down the wing but Tom Brady was pinged for obstructing Marland Yarde.
 
Slater was also heavily early on, holding Luke Wallace in at a maul to win the scrum put-in on the Leicester 22. It set the tone for an impressive, physical display by lock Slater.
 
The game was stop-start in the opening exchanges, not helped by the heavy rain, but Tigers had to look at themselves too as they gave away a series of penalties. Indeed, Williams gave away a penalty for not rolling and Nick Evans kicked Quins into a 3-0 lead after 10 minutes.
 
Quins had the edge in the opening quarter. And from a scrum on halfway they threatened the Leicester defence through centre Joe Marchant and winger Alofa Alofa, who slid a return kick behind the Leicester defence but the ball ran dead.
 
At the other end, Betham and McCaffrey caught full-back Aaron Morris, on his Aviva Premiership debut, as he fielded Kitto’s high kick to win a penalty on the Quins 22. Burns landed the kick to level the scores after 16 minutes.
 
It sparked Tigers into life. Betham’s offload opened a hole on the Quins defence before Bateman’s first-time pass sent Slater into the Quins 22. As Tigers flooded forward Charlie Matthews kicked the ball from Kitto's grasp, to concede a penalty but he escaped a yellow card. Instead, Burns's kick gave Tigers a lead for the first time.
 
It was short-lived, however. Quins disrupted possession at a ruck on the Tigers 22 to win a penalty and Evans levelled the scores after 24 minutes.
 
Tigers turned over Quins as they looked to exit from the restart but Marchant read Brendon O’Connor’s pass and knocked on as he tried to intercept.

Tigers made a change eight minutes before the break, Graham Kitchener came on for Tom Croft, who went off for a HIA. The flanker did not return, forcing Mike Fitzgerald into the back row to accommodate Kitchener.
 
Fitzgerald was involved straight away, his tackle on Matthews, allied to work on the ground by Slater and O’Connor, earned a penalty in front of the posts and Burns landed his kick. It gave Tigers a 9-6 lead at half-time.
 
Tigers made a strong start to the second half, Slater turned over possession at a lineout in the Quins 22. The forwards kept it tight as rain continued to fall but were unable to force their way over. Instead, they had to settle for an offside penalty, which Burns landed to double the lead.
 
Tigers were on top at this stage, and good work by Slater and O’Connor took them back up to the Quins line. Again the visitors infringed in defence and, with the advantage, Burns landed a simple drop goal to move Tigers 15-6 ahead.
 
Thompstone’s brilliant kick-chase caught James Chisholm in possession and he won the penalty as the No8 went again after being tackled. This time Tigers went to the corner and it was rewarded with a first try.
 
Tigers had another penalty advantage at the lineout, Burns lifted a kick towards the line that was collected and finished in one move by Williams for his fourth try in Tigers colours. Burns converted to give Tigers a 22-6 lead.
 
Harry Thacker and Sam Harrison came on for Tom Youngs and Kitto.
 
Slater was at the heart of so much for Tigers and his break almost brought him a try but he was stopped 5m short. Thompstone went close at the next phase before Harrison picked out Burns’s blindside run but the fly-half could not gather with the line beckoning.
 
He made no mistake moments later with a penalty for a high tackle on Harrison to move Leicester 25-6 ahead with 17 minutes remaining.
 
Luke Hamilton replaced Slater before the restart. Tait then took a knock as he gathered the kick-off and went off for an HIA to be replaced by George Worth.
 
Cilliers replaced Bateman and Genge finished the game for his replacement Ayerza, who was helped from the field after being hurt in a defensive stand.
 
Burns was the third player to go off for a HIA after a clash with Charlie Walker, replaced by Jack Roberts on his 25th birthday. Williams moved to fly-half.
 
The Tigers defence was excellent, and worked doggedly to ensure their line remained intact. They repelled a drive on their own line and then crowded out Walker as he tried to cross at the left corner.
 
Referee Maxwell-Keys consulted his TMO after an altercation between Fitzgerald and Chisholm on halfway. Fitzgerald was shown a yellow card for a tip tackle on Chisholm, who also received a yellow for his retaliation on the Leicester man. The penalty went Leicester’s way and Williams kicked them up to the Quins 22.
 
Burns, the Aviva Man-of-the-Match, came back on after his HIA for Williams for the final 10 minutes. And in a game with a relatively high attrition rate there was a gruesome injury to James Horwill, the Quins lock, who dislocated a finger on his left hand. 
 
Tigers had one last chance to score with a 5m lineout with time up. However, Tigers were unable to control the drive and Burns was stripped of possession before Winston Stanley’s knock-on brought the game to an end.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

LEI 9-6 HAR

FT ScoreFull Time Score

LEI 25-6 HAR

Attendance

25,849

Referee

Craig Maxwell-keys

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
25

Full Time

Harlequins
Harlequins
6

Match Stats

Leicester Tigers
Harlequins
Possession
46%
54%
Territory
51%
49%
Penalties Conceded
14
16
Yellow Cards
1
1
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
107/115 93%
104/120 87%
Scrums Won
4/6 33%
4/5 20%
Lineouts Won
12/12 100%
14/14 100%

Player Stats

Leicester Tigers
Harlequins
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15Mathew Tait
14Adam Thompstone
13Peter Betham
12Owen Williams1T
11Tom Brady
101C1D5P
9Jono Kitto
1Ellis Genge
2Tom Youngs
3Greg Bateman
4Ed Slater
5Michael Fitzgerald
6Tom Croft
7Brendon O'Connor
8Lachlan McCaffrey
16Harry Thacker
17Marcos Ayerza
18
19Graham Kitchener
20
21Sam Harrison
22Jack Roberts
23

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

Subs

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Aaron Morris
14
Marland Yarde
13
Joe Marchant
12
Winston Stanley
11
10
Nick Evans
9
Karl Dickson
1
Dan Murphy
2
Rob Buchanan
3
Will Collier
4
5
James Horwill
6
Luke Wallace
7
Dave Ward
8
James Chisholm

Subs

16
Matthew Shields
17
Owen Evans
18
Adam Jones
19
20
George Naoupu
21
22
Tim Swiel
23
Charlie Walker
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
4
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI22140856744512258486466
6
Harlequins
HarlequinsHAR2211011532526657595352
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