Harlequins 15 Leicester 21: Harlequins refuse to panic after fourth loss in a row

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The Independent Online

Four Premiership defeats out of four would have had other directors of rugby reaching for the panic button with one hand and the cheque book with the other. But Dean Richards was not even prepared to say whether the Premiership has got better, harder or tougher in Harlequins' year-long absence.

In fact, he seemed more concerned with his old club's performance. "I wouldn't exactly say I was disappointed with Leicester but on paper they have a very good side, don't they?" he said. "I looked at their side tonight, they had 12 internationals in it.

"I don't know whether they are not firing, or what, or maybe we just played better than people anticipated. It is very difficult to come down to the Stoop, and they have always said their away form is not great."

There was certainly an edge to the Leicester performance before they had shaken off fears of another poor away showing. The centre Sam Vesty admitted that a great deal hinged on this game.

"Winning today was massive for us," he said. "Our away record over the last few years has been poor. You do not want to get into that rut, which we have been in in the past, of going away from home and losing. It was very important a) to put a stop to that run and b) get some points, because lying seventh is not where we want to be."

By the same token, hovering just above the bottom of the table is not where Quins want to be, but Richards is keeping calm. "I am happy with the squad we have," he said, "and we are not worried about losing four games on the trot. It will not be a fight for survival for us. But it's a huge step up from the first division. We anticipated it was going to be a tough start. We knew this game was going to be a shit fight. I thought Leicester deserved to win."

The Quins front five performed magnificently, but all their tremendous hard work went to waste when Will Skinner lost his head, late-charged Paul Burke and earned a yellow card. Although Burke missed the resultant penalty he made no mistake three minutes later with the conversion of a try by Scott Bemand.

Adrian Jarvis kept Quins close enough for a bonus point with five penalties, but they were not given a sniff of a try-scoring chance and the Tigers took a step up the Premiership table.

Harlequins: Penalties Jarvis 5.

Leicester: Tries Varndell, Bemand; Conversion Burke; Penalties Burke 3.

Harlequins: G Duffy; S Keogh, H Luscombe, M Deane, U Monye; A Jarvis, S So'oialo (D Care, 47); C Jones, J Hayter (J Richards, 66), M Ross (R Nebbett, 66), O Kohn (J Evans, 66), N Spanghero (J Evans, 20-26), N Easter (capt), W Skinner, C Hala'ufia. Leicester: G Murphy (O Smith, 45); J Murphy, D Hipkiss, S Vesty, T Varndell; P Burke, H Ellis (S Bemand, 57); M Castrogiovanni, G Chuter, J White, L Cullen, B Kay, L Deacon, L Moody, M Corry (capt).

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).

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