Cockerill crows after Tigers win a thriller

Harlequins 33 Leicester Tigers 43: Title contenders share seven tries in potential Twickenham dress rehearsal

the twickenham stoop

This was a stunningly entertaining match that you almost wished the two teams had saved for the Premiership final, should either or both get there, across the road at Twickenham next month. Leicester are odds on to make it after extending their Premiership record to six bonus-point wins in a row and with Bath at Welford Road as their last regular-season fixture in a fortnight. Harlequins, still the league leaders, but by only a point from the Tigers and three from Saracens, will finish away to Sale and may fear being edged out of a home semi-final.

Fear, though, was not the word to rush to after this. Attack, nerve and verve were more like it. Quins' director of rugby, Conor O'Shea, summed up the feelings of everyone from gnarled coaches to the babes in arms whose prams are placed in front of the stands at the Stoop. "What a game," he said. "It's a battle won by Leicester but hopefully we'll have another to come at some stage. We contributed outstandingly but the better side won."

The better side remarkably often, indeed, with Harlequins having won only two of their last 28 Premiership meetings with Leicester, though the multi-coloured ones' record in cups is not so bad, so perhaps a sudden-death final would suit them.

From Thomas Waldrom's signature "toot-toot" signal beating the television match official's thumbs up for the first of Leicester's four tries, the Tigers had resolve, back-up quality and a cutting edge. The goal-kicking contest between the fly-halves, Nick Evans and Toby Flood, was of the highest quality too; there was not one missed in 16 attempts between them, even if Evans was carrying a troublesome ankle.

"We're the two best sides, playing and on form," said Richard Cockerill, O'Shea's Leicester counterpart. "To outscore Quins on tries and over the 80 minutes outplay them was good for us. Especially when they have been hailed as the attractive side."

Leicester's 7-0 lead became 10-6 with two penalties to one by Evans and Flood. By half-time their personal duel stood at six to five as Quins' movement tested Leicester's ability to stay, as the grifter Luther Coleman put it in The Sting, mostly legal. Flood was intercepted by Ugo Monye on the Quins 10-metre line for the home side's first try and when Manu Tuilagi prevented George Lowe, off the ball, running on to Jordan Turner-Hall's pass, a yellow card to the Leicester centre helped sustain Quins in their most profitable spell of 20 points in 10 minutes. Evans's penalty for the Tuilagi offence was followed by a try for Nick Easter, bullocking over on the short side of a scrum – this from a Leicester line-out overthrow that was knocked on by Waldrom.

Easter had gone past Tom Croft off the flank and Ben Youngs at scrum-half and Croft was left in a heap, to be carried off with his neck braced. The all-clear for the England flanker's neck was given later; more likely was damage to the right shoulder. The hiatus while Croft was tended to interrupted Quins' flow and Tigers began clawing back from 23-10 down. Flood and Evans exchanged penalties, then a midfield move that appeared dead proved anything but as Croft's replacement, Steve Mafi, strode away to score Leicester's second try. Flood's penalty on half-time had Quins just three points ahead.

Quins attacked Manu Tuilagi as a weak link of Tigers' distribution and it is something both Leicester and England need to work on, but Anthony Allen's form is a counter-balance. Another Flood penalty followed by Lowe's try from Evans's lovely dab of a kick had Quins 33-26 up. There were very few scrums – to Quins' liking, you might have thought. In fact they earned a penalty at the first one and with Chuter misplacing a line-out on 58 minutes, the set-pieces were no playground for Leicester.

But Turner-Hall was left standing by Allen's footwork as the Leicester inside centre bolted through a gap on 65 minutes; Tigers went left and Geordan Murphy fed Alesana Tuilagifor a try. The Premiership's leading try scorers were on top when Waldrom went jogging in for his second. A tiring Quins had withdrawn Easterand Monye was helped off with a leg injury. Evans was substituted with nine minutes remaining.

Leicester, Premiership finalists for the last seven seasons, are rarely bested for their bench and Martin Castrogiovanni, on for Dan Cole, was a ghoulish nuisance to Quins. The home side's last chance was lost when Sam Smith tossed a madcap reverse pass that was knocked on. When Lowe could not resist creeping round a ruck to tackle Youngs, the final swing of Flood's right boot took his tally to 23 and rubbed out Quins' losing bonus.

Harlequins M Brown; U Monye (R Chisholm, 71), G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, S Smith; N Evans (R Clegg, 71), D Care; J Marler, R Buchanan, J Johnston, O Kohn, G Robson (T Vallejos, 67), M Fa'asavalu, N Easter (T Guest, 64), C Robshaw (capt).

Leicester Tigers G Murphy (capt); H Agulla, M Tuilagi, A Allen, A Tuilagi; T Flood, B Youngs; M Ayerza, G Chuter, D Cole (M Castrogivanni, 55), G Skivington, G Parling, T Croft (S Mafi, 27), T Waldrom, J Salvi.

Referee W Barnes (London).

Harlequins

Tries: Monye, Easter, Lowe

Cons: Evans 3

Pens: Evans 4

Leicester Tigers

Tries: Waldrom 2, Mafi, A Tuilagi

Cons: Flood 4

Pens: Flood 5

Suggested Topics
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried