Will finds the way to upstage old friends

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The Independent Online

Will Greenwood had begun the day admitting in a newspaper that he knew his England place was under threat after a series of below-par performances for Harlequins recently.

But, with the likes of the Bath centre Mike Tindall panting down his neck, Greenwood met the challenge to his Test place with a sterling performance in Harlequins' stirring quarter-final tie in the Powergen Cup against Leicester at The Stoop. Even when Quins were on the back foot, the rangy centre was to be found in the foreground and in the thick of the action.

Just before Christmas, Greenwood's star had plummeted probably as low as a former Tiger can go when he tasted Premiership defeat on the same ground against the same opponents. So yesterday would have been as sweet a moment as any since he scored a try in Harlequins' semi-final victory over Leicester at The Stoop in last season's Cup competition.

If there was not quite the glamour of a big-match score for the former Leicester player, it mattered little, because Greenwood had plenty of other things to do. And he did them with aplomb.

There was an early break which led to Burke's first penalty goal when Tigers transgressed at the breakdown, then there was a witty interception, and either side were some big hits to stop the Tigers in their tracks. And when he was not action man, Greenwood was making his presence felt with his mouth, helping to marshall the defence whenever necessary.

He even survived a dodgy moment when his England captain, Martin Johnson, appeared to lay a hand on him early in the second half. Greenwood ended up on his backside, gesticulating in vain to a touch judge to see if the official had spotted the gratuitous shove, but when he realised that nothing had been seen the Harlequin quickly bounced back to his feet and got on with the game.

Unfortunately, he would probably have been better off staying on the ground until after Ollie Smith's try. The youngster comfortably rounded Greenwood – although it has to be said there were acres of space between the two players and Greenwood had no hope of catching Smith.

But it was not long before Greenwood caused his own stir, breaking clear and setting up a phase close to the Leicester line, then taking the ball up when it was recycled moments later only to be held up by Leon Lloyd tantalisingly short of the line.

It was the sort of showing that should give the England management heart. Greenwood has heeded the alarm bells as his rivals have turned push into shove, jostling for his England place. The message is simple: Greenwood is fighting hard to hang on to it.

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