Richards dominantin his element

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The Independent Online
Leicester 24 Harlequins 9

If England are to have any chance of beating Scotland on Saturday then, according to Leicester's Director of Rugby, Tony Russ, they need to take a page or two out of the Dean Richards' coaching manual.

The facts tell only a small part of the story of a one-sided Pilkington Cup quarter-final. Richards was not the only teller, though his tale was by far the most telling, for the truth is that what Richards does not know about organising a pack in a concerted effort, is hardly worth recalling. The Leicester colossus was, in a word, colossal.

If any doubts as to that remained after the Tigers first rumbled, then roared, to their 14th semi-final, Quins' coach, Keith Richardson, dispelled them.

Never one to praise, except those richly deserving, Richardson was fulsome: "Leicester's mauling was better, their driving was better, they were relentless. I thought we might have been quicker but, in difficult conditions, they played sensible, pragmatic rugby. They kept coming at us for 80 minutes, and you can't play without the ball."

True. For most of the time Richards had it, and when he did not, it was in Martin Johnson's grasp. The other six Leicester forwards were bit players; though the bits they played totalled much more than anything the Quins' pack could raise.

"The first-half performance by our backs was almost comical," Russ said, "but Dean gives our forwards a focal point - just as he will for England at Murrayfield - Martin Johnson was priceless, and our tactics were absolutely spot-on."

In sheeting rain, on a pitch of brown porridge, the game was up for Harlequins when John Liley struck three penalties in seven minutes after the break to take the Tigers 12-3 ahead. From then on they never looked back.

With total mastery at the line-out - Leicester won possession from Harlequins' throw seven times - and two strikes against the head, there was a pushover try for Aadel Kardooni and Darren Garforth was rolled over for a second. Paul Challinor's three penalties were all Quins could muster. It was game, set and match to Leicester.

Leicester: Tries Kardooni, Garforth; Conversion Liley; Penalties Liley 4. Harlequins: Penalties Challinor 3.

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, R Robinson, P Delaney, R Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells, D Richards (capt), N Back.

Harlequins: J Williams; D O'Leary, W Carling, P Mensah, S Bromley; P Challinor, R Kitchin; J Leonard (capt), S Mitchell, A Mullins, A Snow, M Watson, G Allison, R Jenkins, C Sheasby.

Referee: S Piercy (Yorkshire).