Leicester Tigers fell short, 17-20, on the final day of the regular league season to Harlequins at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
A man down for the entire second half following a red card to Chris Ashton in the 38th minute, Leicester fought their way back into the contest after trailing by ten points, 7-17, at the break but couldn't complete the comeback to make it seven straight victories in the Gallagher Premiership ahead of the semi-finals.
Harlequins were the first to register points, eleven minutes into the match, when a driving maul from the visitors was ruled to have been brought down by Cameron Henderson and a penalty try gave them a seven-point lead.
The Tigers lock was shown a yellow card by Referee Ian Tempest following the infringement.
Despite being a man down, the home side rallied to get across for a try in the 14th minute when Julián Montoya crashed over at the back of a maul and Handré Pollard converted to make it 7-7.
However, just four minutes later, Harlequins took advantage of their overlap in attack and crossed out wide through Cadan Murley.
Marcus Smith converted the score to see them out to a seven-point lead once again just two minutes before Henderson returned from the sin bin.
Both sides traded blows in a fiery encounter in front of a sold-out Mattioli Woods Welford Road and, just two minutes before the break, Ashton was ruled to have made a high tackle and sent off.
Smith added three points, extending the Harlequins lead to ten points prior to half-time.
A penalty goal in the opening minutes of the second half for Pollard cut the deficit to seven, 10-17, where it remained until a 70th minute penalty goal from Smith made it 10-20.
Leicester refused to lay down and got across the chalk with just three minutes left on the clock through Tommy Reffell, which Jimmy Gopperth converted, to mean just three points separated the sides.
Tigers fought their way into within inches of the visitor's line in the dying stages on the back of successive infringements from the London club but couldn't find a way through the Harlequins defence and had to settle for a losing bonus-point, 17-20, to confirm third place on the Premiership ladder and book an away trip to Sale Sharks in the semi-finals.
FULL-TIME HERE AT MATTIOLI WOODS WELFORD ROAD
Tigers come within inches of an epic comeback, the ball turned over right on the Harlequins try-line.
A hard-fought game filled with tries and cards, the final score is Leicester Tigers 17 - 20 Harlequins.
YELLOW CARD | HARLEQUINS
Joe Marler brings down the initial drive and is duly shown the yellow card to the waves of the home fans, the prop answering with a good-natured thumbs up.
GOING DOWN TO THE WIRE
With just 15 seconds left on the clock, the home side win a massive penalty to an enormous roar from the crowd! They kick up to just past halfway and win yet another penalty, as the near 26'000 people at Mattioli Woods Welford Road roar 'TIIIIIIGERS'. We're just 10 metres out now!
CONVERSION | Jimmy Gopperth
Gopperth adds the extras swiftly and the deficit is cut to just three points with as many minutes remaining.
TRY | Leicester Tigers
Things are really heating up in the last five minutes! It all comes from a big block by Hanro Liebenberg before Carnduff is put in space but hauled down. Tigers win the penalty and kick to touch, going straight for the maul.
It's pulled down illegally by Quins but the home side take the advantage and send bodies in, eventually getting the ball down amongst a medley of people (so many that no one is sure who actually touched down, especially with the huge noise from this sold-out crowd!).
Substitution | Harlequins
A change in the second-row as Dino Lamb is replaced by George Hammond
DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION | Leicester Tigers
Matt Scott comes on in the centres for Dan Kelly, whilst 19-year-old Finn Carnduff makes his Premiership Rugby debut, the forward replacing Cameron Henderson
PENALTY | HARLEQUINS
Marcus Smith claims the three points from just to the left of the posts and reestablishes a 10 point lead for the London side
SUBSTITUTION | HARLEQUINS
A change at 9 for the visitors as Lewis Gjaltema replaces Danny Care
TIGERS BUILDING THEIR WAY UP FIELD
A war of attrition here, as Tigers edge upwards through hard carries and canny box kicks to force errors. From their own try line the home side are up to half-way as both sides look to find a chink in the others armour.
A huge roar goes out from the Tigers family as the home side win a massive scrum penalty and kick to Harlequins' 22.
SUBSTITUTION | Leicester Tigers
A switch at scrum-half now as Jack van Poortvliet replaces Ben Youngs
GREAT DEFENCE BY TIGERS
It looks like Quins are breaking for another try from Murley but Potter reads it and flies back, intercepting the wing and twisting him to not allow a grounding, the ball knocked-on in the attempt.
SUBSTITUTION | Jasper Wiese
In addition to the aforementioned subs, there's a switch at the back of the scrum as No. 8 Jasper Wiese is replaced by Olly Cracknell
Triple Substitution | Leicester Tigers
The whole front-row is replaced, with Francois van Wyk, Charlie Clare and Joe Heyes replacing Tom West, Julián Montoya and Dan Cole respectively
PENALTY | Handré Pollard
The fly-half reduces the deficit, kicking right into a cheering Mattioli Woods stand
THE SECOND HALF BEGINS
Marcus Smith starts the second half, with a wide, high kick to the right of the field
The whistle is blown on a chaotic first 40 minutes. The visitors lead through a penalty try, a Cadan Murley score and a late Smith penalty, while Tigers scored a driving maul through Julián Montoya.
PENALTY | HARLEQUINS
Marcus Smith opts for the tee from a Harlequins penalty five-metres out and duly adds the three points to extend the visitors lead.
RED CARD | CHRIS ASHTON
The away side make a break down the left with offloads aplenty. One such offload is met by Ashton, who the referee decides has committed a high-tackle and shows the wing a red card.
POLLARD BOOT RELIEVES PRESSURE
A lot of tough tackling and hard lines in the middle of the field before a kicking battle for territory ensues. Quins look to have put the home side under pressure but Handré Pollard does well to find touch with a deep kick from his own 22
TIGERS GO CLOSE IN SCRAPPY PERIOD
Tigers come agonisingly close from a driving maul before a Ben Youngs pop pass sees Potter stopped just before the line, the referee adjudicating that he hadn't released before making it over the line.
Just minutes later, Potter is almost part of a move that sees Guy Porter sent through, the two combining fluidly with Mike Brown. We then have a long period of review, with Brown competing in the air against substitute Louis Lynagh but the referee calls no foul play.
SUBSTITUTION | HARLEQUINS
Louis Lynagh comes on for Nick David in the Quins back-three
CONVERSION | HARLEQUINS
Marcus Smith converts with aplomb, a booming kick from the 10
TRY | HARLEQUINS
A classic running try for Quins, they play through the hands and make the extra man count, top try scorer Cadan Murley the one to touch down
CONVERSION | Handré Pollard
The South-African 10 adds the extras with a typically confident kick from out wide on the right.
TRY | Julián Montoya
On the day of the Coronation and with one on the plaza, it's quite the day for London Buses and in typical fashion, we see two tries in two minutes.
It's a classic Tigers try, a threatening kick to the corner by Pollard and the driving maul is on. It's the captain who touches down to a jubilant Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
YELLOW CARD FOR CAMERON HENDERSON
In the aftermath of the penalty try, Cameron Henderson is shown a yellow card.
PENALTY TRY FOR HARLEQUINS
In the first real opportunity of the match, Harlequins kick for the corner from a penalty and then set the driving maul. The referee adjudicates that Tigers deliberately collapsed it and thus a penalty try is given to the visitors, the first points of the afternoon.
CAGEY OPENING FIVE MINUTES
Neither side are able to get much of anything going thus far, ceding possession away to one another through a series of penalties and knock ons. Quins had a half-chance on the right-wing but Nick David was unable to put through Caden Murley.
Handré Pollard gets us underway with a drop-kick high up into a cloudy East-Midlands sky and the game begins
FIVE MINUTES TILL KICK-OFF
We're almost underway here at Mattioli Woods Welford Road. Get ready for Round 24 action in the Gallagher Premiership as Leicester Tigers see out the regular season against Harlequins!
30 MINUTES AWAY FROM KICK-OFF
We're just half an hour away from kick-off on the final game at Mattioli Woods Welford Road of the 2022/23 season. Get yourself down to the stadium for our Summer Showdown, pop the kettle on and stick on PRTV or follow along with us here, it's almost time for Tigers rugby!