Quins add to Tigers’ woes
Harlequins condemned Leicester Tigers to their third Premiership defeat of the season when they prevailed 23-16 at Welford Road on Saturday.
Harlequins condemned Leicester Tigers to their third Premiership defeat of the season when they prevailed 23-16 over the defending champions at Welford Road on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, London Wasps triumphed 32-30 over Gloucester in an eight-try thriller at Kingsholm.
We look at Saturday’s action!
Leicester Tigers 16-23 Harlequins
Tries from Nick Easter and Matt Hopper either side of half-time saw Harlequins snatch a hard-fought win over defending Premiership champions Leicester Tigers.
Owen Williams kicked three penalties at Welford Road and a late penalty try earned the hosts a losing bonus point but it was Quins who deservedly emerged victorious as they continued their recovery from their early season struggles.
The Tigers ended Quins' title defence last season in the play-off semifinals but it was the London side who won both encounters during the regular season.
And this time they made the Tigers pay while Julian Salvi was in the sin bin either side of the interval to leapfrog their opponents to fifth in the table.
The Tigers' struggles continue meanwhile - they have now only won once in their last five fixtures in all competitions.
Both sides were vastly depleted by injury and international call-ups, former Gloucester centre Tim Molenaar making his debut in midfield for Quins.
And it was the London club who made the faster start, dominating both territory and possession in the opening exchanges.
But despite that strong start it was the Tigers and Owen Williams who got the first points on the board.
The Welsh flyhalf, continuing to deputise while Toby Flood is away with England, slotted penalties in the eighth and 18th minutes to open up a 6-0 lead.
The former Scarlet missed a penalty in the swirling conditions just after the half-hour mark but a nine-point lead would have flattered the hosts as Quins continued to play most of the rugby.
In the 36th minute, Hopper made a fine break to set up possession deep in the Tigers' 22 and finally Conor O'Shea's side came away with something to show for their efforts as Evans, who started at fullback with Ben Botica at flyhalf, slotted a penalty to halve the deficit.
Salvi was sent to the sin bin during the same incident and with the Kiwi powerless on the sidelines, O'Shea's troops took full advantage.
They nearly had the first try of the match on 38 minutes but Evans was bundled into touch just short of the try-line down the left.
But the visitors refused to buckle and into first-half injury time, Easter managed to barge over by the posts, Evans converting for a 10-6 lead.
After the break with Salvi in the bin still, Botica missed the chance to extend the lead as his long-range penalty drifted wide.
But Quins were clearly in the mood and Hopper danced clear in spectacular fashion; released down the left wing the outside centre cut back in to dot down virtually untouched under the posts.
A Tigers comeback was inevitable and no sooner was Salvi reintroduced than Williams slotted his third penalty of the game to close the gap to 17-9.
And the hosts kept coming; Botica's kick was charged down but a superb tackle from Ugo Monye held the Tigers short when a try seemed a near certainty.
And when Dan Bowden chipped to the corner, Botica made up for his earlier error with a last-ditch tackle to deny Adam Thompstone.
Having weathered the storm, Quins then went up the other end and effectively clinched the win just after the hour mark, Evans' penalty making it 20-9.
Sam Smith was introduced as well meaning Evans could switch to his preferred flyhalf position late on and the Kiwi added another penalty to stretch the lead to 14 points.
But the Tigers kept fighting and in the final minute they claimed their losing bonus point as the scrum earned a penalty try that Williams converted.
For Leicester Tigers:
Pens: Williams 3
Tries: Easter, Hopper
Cons: Evans 3
Pens: Evans 2
Yellow card: Julian Salvi (Leicester Tigers, 35)
Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Terrence Hepetema, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Owen Williams, 9 David Mélé, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (captain), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Blaine Scully.
Harlequins: 15 Nick Evans, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Joe Trayfoot, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter (captain), 3 Will Collier, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Harry Allen, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Nic Mayhew 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tom Casson, 23 Sam Smith.
Referee: Tim Wiggleswrth
Assistant referees: Gregory Garner, Kevin Stewart
TMO: David Grashoff
Gloucester 30-32 London Wasps
Two Christian Wade tries bookended a London Wasps victory at Kingsholm in a high-scoring encounter that saw the sides finish with four tries apiece.
The visitors took advantage of some uncertain defending from the Cherry and Whites in the first half as first Wade and then Nathan Hughes gave Wasps a 14-0 lead.
The home side fought back after a freakish try from Shaun Knight but despite getting their noses in front in the second half never looked convincing as they succumbed to their fifth defeat in seven Premiership matches.
Gloucester looked to have lost Freddie Burns to injury early on after he collided with Josh Bassett in the air but the flyhalf was able to return after five minutes on the sidelines.
Wasps took the lead when the ball was spun wide to Wade who broke the tackle of fullback Rob Cook on the halfway line and simply ran away from the defence to score. Andy Goode slotted the conversion to give Wasps an early 7-0 lead, and it wasn't long before they moved further ahead.
From a Gloucester scrum in their own 22, Wasps won the ball and struck down the blindside with No.8 Hughes running over his marker to touch down, Goode drilling a low conversion between the posts to add the extras.
Eleven minutes before the break, Burns was given the chance to get his side on the scoresheet when try-scorer Hughes was penalised by referee JP Doyle for not rolling away from the tackle in front of the posts. The flyhalf made short work of the kick off the tee to make it 14-3 against the run of play.
Gloucester roared back into the game through a freakish try following a lovely break from Henry Trinder. The ball went wide to Andy Hazell who appeared to have lost it four metres from the line after a desperate tackle from Bassett, only for it to pop off his shin and into the in-goal area where Knight dived on it to dot down.
Burns was successful with a tricky conversion and out of nothing the gap was reduced to four points.
A Goode chip over the Gloucester defence looked to have set up Charlie Hayter for the try only for Jonny May to rush over and prevent him crossing the whitewash. But a Goode penalty on the stroke of half-time sent Wasps in at the break with a seven-point advantage.
The gap was two points shortly after the break after a move straight off the training ground, Sione Kalamafoni taking a low throw-in at the line-out to plunge over the line with Wasps caught unawares. Burns was on target with a difficult conversion but a strong wind prevented the kick from reaching the posts.
Ryan Mills came within inches of putting Gloucester in front for the first time in the match as he was pulled down short of the line with Wasps desperately scrambling back in defence.
But after an extended period camped in the Wasps 22, Gloucester won another penalty that Burns dispatched to move his side ahead.
But Wasps immediately went up the other end and with a penalty coming Goode failed with an attempted drop goal, referee Doyle bringing the game back for the infringement. The much-travelled flyhalf was successful with a tricky strike as the lead swung back to Wasps.
Jimmy Cowan - on as a replacement for Dan Robson - was soon in the thick of the action, failing with a drop goal effort in the knowledge the penalty was coming.
Burns missed with his penalty but Charlie Sharples followed up to tap the ball back, Gloucester recycled and Cowan fed Cook who plunged over the line. Burns couldn't add the extras, and Gloucester led 23-20 going into a nervy final few minutes.
And Wasps struck straight back as Kalamafoni and Cowan failed to claim the restart, Cowan spilling the ball into the Gloucester 22 where Guy Thompson pounced to touch down.
Goode's superb conversion made it 27-23 to the visitors with six minutes left and Wade sealed victory with his second try shortly after to secure Wasps' bonus point. The wing ran onto switch ball and darted between two forwards to escape his markers and touch down.
Gloucester pressed on in search of a bonus point and after two quick penalties, Cook got his second of the afternoon, Burns slotting the extras to ensure defeat was by only two points.
Tries: Knight, Kalamafoni, Cook 2
Cons: Burns 2
Pens: Burns 2
For London Wasps:
Tries: Wade 2, Hughes, Thompson
Cons: Goode 3
Pens: Goode 2
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Tom Savage (captain), 5 James Hudson, 4 Will James, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 James Gibbons, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Charlie Sharples, 23 Matt Kvesic.
London Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Chris Bell (captain), 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes. 7 James Haskell, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Cannon, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Tommy Bell.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick and Gareth Copsey.
TMO: Rowan Kitt.