Leicester Tigers scored a vital Aviva Premiership win with a 33-18 triumph over Harlequins at Welford Road on Saturday.
Quins were making their 100th visit to Welford Road, dating back to 1895, and looking for a first win on Tigers turf since November 2013.
They got off to a flying start with a try in the opening moments of the Round 15 fixture, only for Matt Toomua to push Tigers in front with a couple of penalties.
Quins took the lead again at the start of the second half with a try from Luke Wallace before Toomua crafted a fine solo try to put the home side’s noses back in front.
Graham Kitchener added a second just moments later, though a score from Quins kept it tight until Toomua added a late penalty to put some daylight between the teams and then finally Adam Thompstone added a third try with the clock already beyond 80 minutes.
In team news announced on Friday, Tigers brought Gareth Owen and Jonah Holmes into the backline, with Toomua at fly-half.
Tigers had won the three most recent meetings of the teams, including the Round 4 clash in September at The Stoop when Greg Bateman, Telusa Veainu and Jonny May were on the scoresheet. George Ford also kicked 16 points in a 31-28 victory.
Quins fly-half Marcus Smith got the game under way and the visitors had a dream start with a try inside three minutes from wing Alofa Alofa.
Tigers lost possession with a knock-on in the centre of the pitch and Quins moved quickly to the right where Alofa was able to run in. Fly-half Smith missed the kick but Quins had a five-point advantage.
The crowd may have been uneasy after three home defeats in the league already this season but they were quickly on their feet after a break by Manu Tuilagi from inside the Tigers half and then a blockbusting run from prop Bateman, who scored such a fine solo try in the reverse fixture at The Stoop earlier in the season.
Bateman’s break did bring a penalty, but Toomua struck the inside of the post and saw the ball drop forwards for Aaron Morris to clear to touch.
A second opportunity followed almost immediately with Kyle Sinckler penalised and this time Toomua knocked over the three-pointer.
Toomua was heavily involved in the next attack, grubbing a kick in behind the Quins defence and, although Morris gathered, he was hit by Thompstone on the kickchase and had to dot down behind his own tryline.
From the scrum, Tuilagi almost carried possession and the defender back over the line but then Tom Youngs was held up. Referee Wayne Barnes was already playing advantage, however, and play restarted with a penalty in favour of the home team.
Toomua took the kick from just to the right of the posts and put Tigers 6-5 in front with 18 minutes played
Quins prop Lewis Boyce, who had received physio attention on a couple of occasions in the opening 20 minutes, was replaced by Mark Lambert as the visitors had put-in at a scrum on halfway but referee Barnes blew for a free-kick in Tigers' favour.
From the re-set scrum, Tigers looked to make a breakthrough in midfield but Jamie Roberts forced a knock-on as he caught up with Tuilagi.
Mike Williams then produced a vital tackle around the ankles of Morris just as a gap opened on the edge of the Tigers 22. But the home side were forced on to the defensive for several minutes with Toomua and Tuilagi prominent in shutting out the Quins attack.
Holmes had a first sniff of an opportunity on the left touchline, but just couldn’t get a clean hold of a cheeky kick from Veainu.
Quins quickly turned defence into attack with Roberts making the break, though the crowd felt a pass from Luke Wallace on the left had gone forward before Owen made a try-saving tackle on Sinckler, rolling the prop on to his back as he crossed the tryline.
Play restarted with a five-metre scrum and Quins were rewarded with a penalty which Smith put through the posts for an 8-6 advantage with eight minutes remaining in the half.
A run from Brendon O’Connor on the right flank had Tigers on the attack again but the chance was lost in the midfield and Quins were able to clear after being awarded a penalty at the breakdown.
The high tempo continued as Smith was caught as he tried to run out from his own 22, and then a hit from Tuilagi forced a handling error near to the touchline which kept Tigers in visitors’ territory.
Tigers put together some impressive phases thanks to quick clears and a number of forceful carries near the Quins line but still they could not find the breakthrough, though fly-half Smith was sent to the sin bin as he intercepted a pass just in front of his own line.
Toomua kicked the resulting penalty to put Tigers 9-8 in front at half-time.
With no changes to the line-ups at half-time Tigers got the second period under way with a kick deep into Quins territory, but Morris and then Tim Visser made runs to get 14-man Quins on the attack before Tigers forced a knock-on from Sinckler.
A high tackle on Tuilagi brought a penalty which Toomua pushed down the right touchline, only for Tigers to lose the ball in contact after the lineout.
Quins enjoyed multiple phases in possession, keeping the ball moving and finally claiming the score through Wallace in the right-hand corner. Smith was back on the field in time to take the conversion but he was unable to add the two points.
Tom Youngs, who made been a key defender for Tigers, made way for Tatafu Polota-Nau as the game restarted with Quins 13-9 in front on 50 minutes.
Carries from front-row duo Bateman and Logo Mulipola got Tigers into the Quins 22, but another spilled ball ended the pressure before Mike Fitzgerald managed to charge down a clearing kick. A home penalty followed as Tigers searched for the breakthrough but, despite setting up a lineout drive, they were held out and Quins managed to rip ball free just five metres from their own tryline.
A home try finally came on 59 minutes with a superb piece of individual skill from Toomua, showing a perfect dummy on the edge of the 22 and bursting through the gap to score his second of the season. The Australian added the conversion for a 16-13 lead.
More followed as Toomua continued to pull the strings with a chip in behind the defence and, when the favourable bounce was grabbed by Kalamafoni, his forward colleague Kitchener arrived to to score, rolling over the line from close range. The conversion stretched the lead to 23-13.
The home crowd increased the noise as the team upped the tempo, and a massive cheer greeted the work at a breakdown which led to a penalty on halfway.
But after the lineout drill allowed Tigers to spread play on the left, ball fell loose once more and Quins cleared from their scrum put-in.
The visitors won a scrum penalty on halfway and Smith kicked out on the left, though Thompstone made a valiant effort to keep the ball in, slapping it against official Luke Pearce, it was still a Quins throw and they made it count as lock Charlie Matthews scored from the drive to the corner.
Smith was wayward with his conversion attempt as the Tigers lead was cut to 23-18 as the game entered its last 10 minutes.
Another handling error in attack gave Quins another opportunity to clear just as Tigers were building momentum. But the Tigers scrum produced a big heave and was rewarded with a penalty, which Toomua thumped through the posts to make it 26-18. Vitally, the kick pushed the hosts more than one score in front with just three minutes left on the clock.
Another penalty followed and this time Tigers went to the corner but, after a clean take, ball was lost. Quins were penned in near to their line, though, and paid the price when Thompstone coolly picked off a pass to intercept and run in unopposed. Toomua added the kick with the clock well past the 80-minute mark to seal the victory.