Harlequins 13-17 Leicester, Aviva Premiership, April 2
Tigers win ugly at the Stoop
April 2, 2011
Tigers win ugly at the Stoop%]
Leicester survived a grandstand finish to beat Harlequins 17-13 in an ill-tempered Aviva Premiership clash at the Stoop on Saturday.
Victory moved the Tigers seven points clear at the summit of the table and all but extinguished Quins' top four hopes, with the game owing little to the sides' free-flowing victories over Bath and Gloucester last weekend.
The final 15 minutes were played by teams of 14 after Quins' Joe Marler and Leicester's Marcos Ayerza were red carded for an ugly clash that will interest the citing official, with the Tigers now sweating on the availability of their Argentinian loose-head for next weekend's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster.
Quins were reduced to 12 players for a minute as Will Skinner and Mark Lambert had earlier been binned in the decisive play of the game, where a penalty try took Leicester clear after they had trailed 10-0 at the break.
The hosts scored the first try through scrum-half Danny Care, but were overrun at the start of the second period as Alesana Tuilagi bit back with a score out wide. Quins No.8 Nick Easter claimed the Man of the Match award in front of the watching Thomas Waldrom, who has thrown his hat into the ring for England selection.
Harlequins began the game with a spring in their step and attacked Leicester as they did the Cherry and Whites last time out. A smart break by Easter and beautiful flat pass from Nick Evans carved the Tigers apart, but the hosts could not capitalise as Ollie Kohn's needlessly complicated offload butchered a simple run in out wide.
Evans was then guilty of failing to take an opportunity, missing a kickable penalty, and Leicester flexed their muscles at the scrum to win two quick penalties to relieve the pressure. Back-to-back mistakes, a missed touch by Evans and sliced clearance by Leicester fullback Scott Hamilton, then opened the door for Easter to stretch his legs and dive over in the corner, but the England No.8 saw his 'try' chalked off for a foot in touch.
Toby Flood had a chance to open the scoring on 25 minutes but passed up a 30 metre penalty after his forwards had again marched Quins backwards at the scrum. The deadlock was finally broken just after the half-hour mark and Flood was again at fault as Care darted over from close range. The Leicester fly-half kicked aimlessly to Easter on halfway and George Robson popped the ball outside some narrow defence to put George Lowe into space.
Joe Marler and Marcos Ayerza were sent off at the Stoop © Getty Images
The outside-centre fixed his man and sent Ugo Monye flying for the corner, the winger managing to stay infield when hauled down. Quins quickly recycled and Care exposed a yawning gap close to the posts to score. Evans converted and added a penalty to establish a 10-point lead and Flood fell short with an effort from halfway to leave it that way at the break.
Leicester began the second period like a runaway train, with Craig Newby returning the favour after Mike Brown had conceded possession with a poor kick. The former All Black smashed through the tackle of Evans and the ball was worked across the backline through the hands of Anthony Allen and Hamilton, allowing Tuilagi to dive over in the corner. After the score was confirmed by the TMO, Flood curled in the extras and from the kick-off Newby again led by example in charging 20 metres upfield after stepping Care with ease.
The game swung in favour of the visitors in a spell of scrummaging five metres out from the Harlequins line. With a warning hanging over their heads for repeat infringements Quins were unable to hold out, losing Skinner and Lambert to the bin before Wayne Barnes awarded a penalty try to the dominant scrummage.
Evans missed a shot at goal after Quins' six-man scrum had been awarded a penalty for a slipped bind by Ayerza, and the prop's evening quickly went from bad to worse. Having aimed a headbutt at Marler he was shown a straight red, with his opponent following him from the field after throwing several punches.
Evans slotted a penalty to make it a one-point game on 65 minutes and Tom Williams went within inches of a try after setting off in pursuit of his fly-half's kick ahead. The ball just eluded the winger as it bobbled in-goal and another chance went begging as a long-range Evans penalty fell just short.
Flood made no such mistake as his side's scrum turned the screw to win yet another penalty and following multiple phases of Quins' attack Leicester closed out an ugly win, but a win all the same.
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