Fighting-fit Tigers rally boldly to put pressure on Quins

Harlequins 33 Leicester 43

The Stoop

For a club counting their injuries in double figures not so long ago, Leicester could handle with jovial equanimity the sight of their England flanker Tom Croft carried off with his neck in a brace. "He'll get the tackle right next time," said the club's director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, cock-a-hoop as he was at a stunning win in the penultimate regular-season match for the Premiership's top two teams.

Croft was said to have received a "stinger" injury that would be only temporary when he broke off the flank to tackle Nick Easter as the Harlequins No 8 attacked the short side of a scrum. Easter ducked into the tackle, head met head and Croft was left in a grimacing heap.

What delighted Cockerill was that at that stage – 27 minutes gone – Quins led 23-10 and Leicester had their mighty centre Manu Tuilagi in the sin bin. Neither fly-half was looking like missing from the tee – and indeed Nick Evans and Toby Flood would finish with a faultless seven and nine kicks respectively – and Quins' movement had been testing Leicester's post-tackle prowess to the limit. The early-season Tigers, beset by injuries and players away at the World Cup, would almost certainly have been beaten. Instead they rallied.

 



Flood railed at Croft for running a line that mucked up one move and allowed Ugo Monye to intercept and run 60m for the first of Quins' three tries. But Tigers scored four to extend their Premiership record run to six straight bonus-point wins, and their squad with its customary depth is fully fit and motoring towards a home semi-final and a possible eighth successive final.

Quins, still the league leaders but by only one point from Leicester and three from Saracens, ran out of puff – or perhaps there was a bit of bluff. Monye looked genuinely anguished as he was helped off with a hamstring injury but the substitutions of Easter and Evans preserved them for battles to come.

Anthony Allen's footwork and distribution showed up well in his head-to-head with Quins' Jordan TurnerHall, one of many mini-contests between England rivals. Allen, capped twice in 2006, missed almost three months of the current season after slicing through his thumb tendons in a DIY accident. A more regular injury cost him another six weeks. On form, his midfield combination with Flood and Tuilagi is the Premiership's most potent in attack, fuelled by a Leicester pack in which Thomas Waldrom – a double try-scorer here – and Julian Salvi are running riot.

"We had a shaky moment but we dug in and got out of it, and played some good stuff," said Allen, who had a short spell in Quins' academy while at Millfield School. "We regrouped behind the sticks [at 23-10 down] and went back to our basics. We started to get quick ball in the second half and that's hard to defend against when the lungs are blowing a bit. Having everyone fit is a massive positive in training. Everyone's putting pressure on each other."

Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, attended Leicester training last Tuesday and had some encouraging words for Allen and others. But whatever the selections for the summer tour to South Africa, the clubs' thoughts will be only of the Premiership final on 26 May. Quins visit Sale on 5 May, knowing a defeat could cost them the home semi-final that has appeared to be their right since September.

Scorers: Harlequins - Tries Monye, Easter, Lowe; Conversions Evans 3; Penalties Evans 4. Leicester - Tries Waldrom 2, Mafi, A Tuilagi; Conversions Flood 4; Penalties Flood 5.

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, C Robshaw (capt), N Easter (T Guest, 64).

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

Referee W Barnes (London).

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

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935