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Club Rugby

Murphy's stout attacking skills leave bitter taste for Harlequins

Leicester 27 Harlequins 14

Leicester seem to have Murphys on tap these days. While they lost Geordan to Ireland Test duty they were still able to field Johne, and he did them proud with a try double. He scored at the start of each half, but his contribution extended further than points; every time he got the ball, wherever he was on the pitch, he posed a threat.

The win saw Leicester leap-frog Harlequins to climb into the top three in the Premiership table behind Gloucester and the leaders, Bath, who drew 28-28 away to Northampton earlier in the afternoon.

There were other pluses for Leicester, not least the newest Tiger on the block, the All Black Scott Hamilton, who showed sound defence, notably when he stopped the scrum-half Junior Polu in his tracks just when a Quins try looked likely.

That was the story of Quins' match. They were only allowed to get so close before the Tigers snuffed out the danger and cleared their lines.

Harlequins handed Leicester an early advantage after messing up the kick-off. They were under immediate pressure, and although they kept out the Tigers forwards, once the ball was spun left with a couple of miss-passes Murphy was presented with a clear run-in for the first of his tries. Fly-half Derick Hougaard landed the first of three touchline conversions, and when he followed it up with a seventh-minute penalty Leicester took charge.

The Quins defence had to work overtime to repel the Tigers' surges, but with just over half an hour of the first half behind them the visitors finally crumbled.

It took a brilliant passage of play to open up their defence. Aaron Mauger, another All Black on the pitch, exchanged passes with the superb Dan Hipkiss before feeding Hougaard, who streaked in at the right-hand corner and landed the conversion for good measure.

Quins gamely hung on and Nick Evans, the third All Black on show, did keep them in touch with three first-half penalties, and very late in the game they picked up a consolation try through the replacement hooker Chris Brooker, but the game was already out of reach. Early in the second half Leicester had pulled well clear when Murphy won the chase to his chip ahead. Hougaard naturallyadded the conversion.