Burke turns the screw on Leicester

Harlequins 17 Leicester 9

A great wind of change blew through the Stoop Memorial ground, and it was Leicester who took another buffeting. It may not be the end of an era, but at the very least it was the end of a sequence in which the Tigers won the last 11 Premiership matches between these clubs.

Both sides were hungry, but for very different reasons. Quins, according to their chief executive Mark Evans, would not consider themselves immune from the spectre of relegation until they reached 38 points. For Leicester this was a test of character, following their Heineken Cup demise last week.

Nobody can remember a season in which Leicester finished empty-handed, and they wanted the points here to help them move into the top three and qualify for the Premiership semi-finals.

While Quins surpassed their target, thoroughly deserving victory by a try, three penalties and a drop goal to three penalties, Leicester again came up short. So short in fact that not only did they fail to score a try but they also missed out on a bonus point, as Paul Burke put the boot in in the last 10 minutes, turning a 9-8 deficit into a 17-9 triumph with two penalties and a drop goal.

As well as Quins played, this was not the Leicester we know and admire, if not love. It is one thing to loose to Munster, quite another to be beaten by Harlequins. The Heineken Cup has gone and their four-year hold on the Premiership is evaporating. Dean Richards, the Tigers' coach, had already embarked on a little rebuilding with not only the recall of the young Sam Vesty at stand-off in place of the re-injured Austin Healey, but also Peter Cook. No longer beyond the fringe but on centre stage, Cook, an England Under-21 international, made his senior debut here and found himself up against the Methuselah of props: Jason Leonard.

This was Quins' first home game since the death of their England scrum half Nick Duncombe, and they were also laying down some new building blocks. They fielded Billy Fulton at scrum-half, a recruit from Wellington in New Zealand who, along with centre Mel Deane and prop Ceri Jones, was making a home debut. As a gesture in Duncombe's memory, Fulton's jersey had no number. The number nine was conspicuous by his deeds, though, not the least of which was an excellent service.

In front of him, he had a wonderful back row in Andre Vos, a revitalised Tony Diprose at No 8 and the warrior-like Ace Tiatia. They were too much of a handful for a Tigers back row which was missing Neil Back.

Leicester had first use of a gale-force wind and Tim Stimpson soon kicked them into a 6-0 lead. Clearly, though, the full-back had not fully recovered from his nightmare against Munster last Sunday. Stimpson landed his first penalty in the opening minute and his second in the 15th, but in between he was dreadful.

An indication of the strength of the wind came when Martin Johnson punted the ball from his own 22 and it ran dead 90 yards later. From the resultant scrum, Quins attacked left, where Ben Gollings chipped past Geordan Murphy and, as the ball corkscrewed over the line, the race was between Gollings and Stimpson. It looked touch and go but the Quins wing was awarded the try by referee Roy Maybank, who had an excellent view. Stimpson protested furiously, as did Johnson. Although Stimpson added another penalty for a 9-5 half-time lead, the Tigers' tactics had been pretty clueless. They kicked away possession and were fortunate to stay in front when Gollings was beaten to another chip by Vesty after Will Greenwood had opened the defence.

After Quins had subjected Leicester to the indignity of a rolling maul, Burke kicked his first penalty to make it 9-8, but for the next 20 minutes they had to withstand sustained pressure. Stimpson missed a relatively easy kick before the fired up Tiatia was sent to the sin bin midway through the half. It looked as if Quins' Ace had been trumped, but predictable, jaded Leicester could not capitalise. Even when they threatened, first through Leon Lloyd on the right then Martin Corry on the left, the move broke down as Murphy spilled a pass in front of the posts. Then Josh Kronfeld limped off with a hamstring strain, and as the game entered the final quarter it was clear that Leicester were a spent force.

After Diprose had won yet another line- out Burke's penalty gave Quins the lead for the first time in the 69th minute. When Johnson conceded another penalty at a ruck Burke was on target again and two minutes later, when Vesty failed to find touch, Burke, in his element, dropped a goal. Thank you, and goodnight.

Harlequins 17 Leicester 9
Try: Gollings Pens: Stimpson 3
Pens: Burke 3
Drop: Burke

Half-time: 5-9 Attendance: 7,123

Harlequins: N Williams; D Luger, W Greenwood, M Deane (R Jewell, 87), B Gollings; P Burke, B Fulton; C Jones, T Fuga (R Winters, 71), J Leonard (J Dawson, 66), B Davison (K Rudzki, 71), S Miall, A Tiatia, T Diprose, A Vos (capt).

Leicester: T Stimpson; G Murphy, L Lloyd, R Kafer (S Booth, 58), F Tuilagi (G Gelderbloom, 85); S Vesty, H Ellis; P Cook, D West, D Garforth, M Johnson (capt), B Kay (P Short, 58), M Corry, A Balding, J Kronfeld (L Deacon, 63).

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent