Robshaw leads way and Quins roar past Tigers in title thriller

Harlequins 30 Leicester Tigers 23: Multicoloured men take their first Premiership crown after pulsating final


No one can outdo Leicester for consistency but this cracking final went deservedly to Harlequins, who took the Premiership trophy across the road to a cock-a-hoop Stoop. Inspired by Chris Robshaw and Nick Evans, winners of the player of the season titles awarded by the Premiership and the players in the past fortnight, Quins claimed their reward for perseverance through bad times and good.

Danny Care, the scrum-half who has had personal problems, had a belter, outshining his England rival Ben Youngs, although the Leicester No 9 very nearly inspired a turnaround when the Tigers scored 10 points in the final 15 minutes.

It was justifiable amid the garlanding of individuals to trace the deeper provenance of Harlequins' first title since leagues began. To Mark Evans, the ex-chief executive, and the ex-director of rugby Dean Richards, in establishing a strong infrastructure; on through the Bloodgate saga of 2009 that ushered in Conor O'Shea when the suspended Richards resigned. The coaches John Kingston, Collin Osborne and Tony Diprose survived that sad episode and were joined by Mark Mapletoft. Each of them was on the pitch in a joyous outpouring of emotion at the final whistle.

"Chris Robshaw epitomises what the club is about," said O'Shea of the England captain, whose work-rate in the sunshine would have made a blue-arsed fly look lazy. "He doesn't get ahead of himself, he's ultra-competitive, we'll have a good night and then we will be looking at how to improve."

Leicester's eighth final in succession brought a fifth defeat and although a yellow card to the No 8 Thomas Waldrom just before half-time was as tough in a different way as their graft in recovering from a terrible start during the World Cup last autumn, they applauded the victors.

"We coughed the ball up when we were inaccurate," said Richard Cockerill, their director of rugby. "Those little things kill you." He declined to place any emphasis on the need to play the 19-year-old George Ford at fly-half, with the England No 10 Toby Flood unfit even to take his advertised place on the bench.

After nine minutes Tom Williams, the wing recovered from his ham-actor's part in Bloodgate, scored the first try of two to each side, finishing from snapped passes by Care and Mike Brown after George Robson busted through with Nick Easter's inside ball. This and other passages of play showed Quins' hallmark: when you think a sequence of handling has reached its limit, they push it further.

Evans, had kicked Quins into a third-minute lead with a penalty but he missed his next shot and the conversion of Williams's try hit the post. Flood sat watching and nursing a tight groin, according to Cockerill. It was left to Ford to try to match Evans, the ex-All Black, for playmaking and goal-kicking. Manu Tuilagi at centre suffered too many midfield mix-ups: at least four forward passes were made of over-running or mistiming under pressure from Robshaw, Easter, Mo Fa'asavalu and Quins' powerful centres.

Ford landed two kicks from three, with another by Evans, for Quins to lead 11-6 after 27 minutes. There was all the ebb and flow you would expect from the league's top two clubs. Dan Cole and James Johnston had their moments in the scrum – or was the referee, Wayne Barnes, simply being even-handed? – and Leicester had some success off line-outs. In the unpredictable way of things, the Tigers had a life-giving try from a misplaced Quins line-out after a sliced kick to touch by Waldrom. The ball richocheted to Cole and the tighthead trundled and handed on to the leggy flanker Steve Mafi, who ran in from halfway. Ford's conversion had Leicester ahead but Waldrom fished at a ruck and saw yellow and Evans made it 14-13 to Quins at the break.

Two Evans penalties punished forwards' misdemeanours and after 56 minutes Care's half-break after a line-out had Leicester's defence staggered. Robshaw spied the gap and his try was converted by Evans, who added another penalty for 30-13. Tigers, to their credit, pushed hard against the almost shut door. Youngs tapped and ran to make a storming try for Anthony Allen, converted by Ford, who then punished a Quins scrum error with a penalty on 69 minutes.

But with Billy Twelvetrees on for Ford, all Leicester's strainings came to nothing. The substitute was bottled up in a last play and Quins uncorked the bubbly.

Harlequins M Brown; T Williams, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; N Evans (R Clegg, 76), D Care; J Marler, J Gray, J Johnston, O Kohn, G Robson, M Fa'asavalu (T Guest, 72), N Easter, C Robshaw (capt).

Leicester G Murphy (capt); H Agulla (S Hamilton, 73), M Tuilagi, A Allen, A Tuilagi; G Ford (B Twelvetrees, 73), B Youngs; M Ayerza (L Mulipola, 73), G Chuter (T Youngs, 61), D Cole (M Castrogiovanni, 54), G Skivington (G Kitchener, 73), G Parling, S Mafi, T Waldrom, J Salvi.

Referee W Barnes (London).


Tries: Williams, Robshaw

Con: Evans

Pens: Evans 6


Tries: Mafi, Allen

Cons: Ford 2

Pens: Ford 3

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own