By Owain Jones, Rugby World Editor
In a nutshell
HARLEQUINS CELEBRATED their first Premiership title beating Leicester 30-23 in a fine advertisment for the Aviva Premiership at a sweltering Twickenham. The Quins flew out of the blocks quickest on a sweltering with Tom Williams streaking in for the game’s first score after nine minutes. The Tigers were playing catch-up for the rest of the first-half before Steve Mafi ran in from 50 metres to score after half-an-hour and give the Tigers a 13-11 lead. Nick Evans nudged the Quins ahead to lead at the break 14-13 and it was the London side who came out of the traps far quicker in the second-half, scoring 16 unanswered points in 25 minutes with Chris Robshaw scored his side’s crucial score. With the redoubtable Nick Evans, slotting seven out of nine kicks, there was to be no way back for a Leicester side, despite a late Anthony Allen to set up a grandstand finish.
Chris Robshaw scored the game’s crucial score on 58 minutes. With Harlequins, 20-13 up, Robshaw showed the awareness of an openside by taking a neat offload from Danny Care to crash over the line from two metres. That is was Robshaw, who appeared from under a pile of bodies was fitting. It summed up an inspirational season for the new England captain.
Star man: Danny Care
Danny’s problems have been well documented this season but he finished on a considerable high. Eager to impress from the off, the pint sized scrum-half was a bundle of energy, with his pace from the base of the scrum causing the sizable Tigers’ backrow no-end of problems. He set up a try for Robshaw and made several breaks in a performance sure to have been noted by the watching England coach Stuart Lancaster.
Room for improvement
After 11 wins on the bounce, Leicester were sluggish coming out in both halves. They also uncharacteristically spilt balls and took a several wrong decisions. They will also not be happy about switching off to allow Tom Williams’ to go in in the corner. Their mistakes left Richard Cockerill’s brow furrowing more by the minute. The sin-binning of Thomas Waldrom at the end of the first-half will not have lifted his mood.
Conor O’Shea, Harlequins Director of Rugby: “Good teams win but great teams kick on and this side will not be allowed to rest on their laurels. I thought Danny Care was incredible today, and at the end it showed how much it meant to the players to win.”
Richard Cockerill, Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby: “I’m proud of what the side has achieved this season but we came here to win, not for the experience but that’s sport. It came down to who played best on the day and Quins played better, they deserved to win. We coughed up balls, which cost us valuable pressure and it’s something we will have to look at.”
Teams and scorers:
LEICESTER: Geordan Murphy (capt); Horacio Agulla (Logovi’i Mulipola, 73), Manusamoa Tuilagi, Anthony Allen, Alesana Tuilagi; George Ford (Billy Twelvetrees, 73), Ben Youngs; Marcos Ayerza (Scott Hamilton, 73) George Chuter (Tom Youngs), 61), Dan Cole (Martin Castrogiovanni, 55), George Skivington (Graham Kitchener, 73), Geoff Parling, Steve Mafi, Julian Salvi, Thomas Waldrom
Not used: Craig Newby, Sam Harrison
LEICESTER (13) 23
Tries: Mafi, Allen Cons: Ford 2 Pens: Ford 3
HARLEQUINS: Mike Brown; Tom Williams, George Lowe, Jordan Turner-Hall, Ugo Monye; Nick Evans (Rory Clegg, 76), Danny Care ; Joe Marler, Joe Gray, James Johnston, Olly Kohn, George Robson, Maurie Fa’asavalu (Tom Guest, 72), Chris Robshaw (capt), Nick Easter.
Not used: Rob Buchanan, Mark Lambert, Will Collier, Tomas Vallejos, Karl Dickson, Matt Hopper
HARLEQUINS (14) 30
Tries: Williams, Robshaw Cons: Evans Pens: Evans 6