Rugby Union / Pilkington Cup Quarter-Finals: Leicester leave it to Harris

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The Independent Online
Leicester. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

Moseley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

YOU half-expected to see the Underwood brothers, after working in the barren seam of the England rugby squad, cavorting like pit-ponies as they smelt the air, or at least the traffic fumes, of their native pasture. Fat chance. You do not run risks in a cup tie. In fact you do not run anything if you can help it, not even if you are the comfortable favourites.

So Leicester, who not so long ago provided the playground for the mischievous Les Cusworth, relied on the thudding boot of Jez Harris, who kicked all their points and has now run up 187 points in his last 10 games. And for most of the game the Underwoods played their now familiar role as spectators with a little fetching and carrying and harrying thrown in as an indulgence. And it has to be said that Moseley did nothing to force the Tigers out of their lair.

The playing-in period was unusually prolonged and ragged - lasting the best part of the match - neither side willing to use their hands when their boots would do the job for them. But even the kicking was so crude that only Wayne Kilford, the Leicester full-back, seemed able to send the ball where he intended and, attracting most of the long-range shelling, he played a crucial game. The rest was kick and rush for the forwards or kick and chase for the wings. A monotonous succession of sallies in the unfounded hope that something might happen.

In the end something did, of course. Moseley killed a ruck in front of their posts by piling in on the wrong side, and Harris kicked a penalty. Then Simon Hodgkinson, in similar circumstances, kicked another and better in reply from 45 metres. But we were into the second quarter by now, and exactly a half-hour passed before there came a blip in the pattern with Harris dropping a goal from broken play. By half-time, thankfully taken after only 38 minutes, the two had added another penalty apiece to make it 9-6.

The pitch offered some excuse. The City had cried off because theirs, just over the way, was waterlogged, and from the stand you could hear the boots squelching below you at Welford Road. But a slippery surface is as hard on defenders as attackers. Rain makes it difficult, but not illegal, to run on the grass.

With penalty kicks at either end going under the bar, the score remained unchanged until, 10 minutes from no-side, the two packs locked antlers in a sequence of mauls and scrums close to the Moseley line. Three times Leicester declined to take the penalty kicks they were awarded, opting instead to huddle down in the scrum. It was only at the fourth invitation that Leicester accepted the kick and Harris kicked the goal that made them so tardily secure.

Leicester: Penalties Harris 3; Drop goal Harris. Moseley: Penalties Hodgkinson 2.

Leicester: W Kilford; T Underwood, S Potter, L Boyle, R Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells (capt), C Tarbuck, N Back.

Moseley: S Hodgkinson; E Anderson, J Bonney, A Houston, L McKenzie; A Kerr, G Becconsall; M Linnet, D Ball, G Smith, C Raymond, S Lloyd, P Shillingford (capt), M Teague, J Morris.

Referee: D Matthews (Liverpool).

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