Stand-offs are born, not made, and Billy Twelvetrees will never really be a natural in the position. What the Leicester Tigers' 21-year-old can do, however, is kick penalties from close to his own 10-metre line, as he proved last night. That Quins lost a match, which, in terms of possession and try-scoring chances, they should have won, was largely down to his boot.
It did not take long, either, for Nick Evans to emphasise his own kicking record this season. The former All Black came into the match with a success rate of more than 90 per cent, and, after his forwards forced Leicester into conceding a penalty in the first minute, he put his side into the lead from half-way. The Tigers were in trouble again soon after which meant another three points for Evans.
The visitors' confidence grew, and a superb inside ball from Evans to Ollie Smith looked to have set up a try, only for Smith's pass to Tom Williams to be ruled forward. Twelvetrees halved the deficit before, incredibly, Evans knocked on when Tom Guest, clean through with Evans on one side, Williams on the other and only Twelvetrees to beat, chose the No 10 as the safer option.
Twelvetrees kicked a second penalty from almost the same position as the first, but a third attempt from two metres inside his own half looked to be over-ambitious; it cleared the bar by a good two metres. He repeated the feat from 57 metres in the second half, shortly after slotting a somewhat easier effort. The young giant finally missed one minutes later, and Williams's last- minute try proved too little, too late.
The Leicester director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, said: "When we got a foothold in the game and got our penalties, Billy was pretty smart, kicking them from his own half as well."
Scorers: Leicester: Penalties: Twelvetrees 6. Harlequins: Try: Williams. Conversion: Evans. Penalties: Evans 2.
Leicester: G Murphy (capt); S Hamilton, M Smith, A Allen, M Tuilagi; B Twelvetrees, J Grindal; P Bucknall, G Chuter, J White, E Slater (G Parling, 51, S Mafi 53) , G Skivington, T Waldrom, C Newby, J Crane.
Harlequins: M Brown; G Lowe, O Smith, J Turner-Hall, T Williams; N Evans, K Dickson; C Jones, J Gray (J Brooker, 51), J Johnston, T Vallejos (A Kohn 57), G Robson, C Robshaw (capt), W Skinner, T Guest.
Referee: W Barnes (RFU).Reuse content