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Match Reaction: Harlequins 18 Leicester Tigers 27

Match Reaction: Harlequins 18 Leicester Tigers 27

Assistant coach Geordan Murphy tipped his cap to a steely second-half showing from the Leicester Tigers replacements, who changed the game at Twickenham Stoop and guided the midlanders to a 27-18 victory over Harlequins.

After Alofa Alofa’s score in the corner and penalties from Nick Evans and Ruaridh Jackson, the hosts looked like they were set for a third win in four games at 13-3 ahead.

But 24 unanswered points from Tigers after half-time saw them turn the contest on its head, with both Sam Harrison and Freddie Burns crossing either side of a penalty try.

And after that both ended Quins’ 100 per cent unbeaten record in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season and saw Tigers claim their first league double over the Londoners since the 2010-11 campaign, Murphy was thrilled with how his side controlled the contest in the second half.

“It’s been a few years since we won down here, and our away form hasn’t been great this year either, so it’s nice to get the points on the board,” he said.

“We started the game very well but we were just a little bit loose with the ball and turned it over a couple of times.

“We had territory in their 22 and didn’t take advantage of it, so at half-time we talked about having a big start in the second half and holding onto the ball to put them under pressure.

“Controlling the tempo of the game was something that we looked at in the week, and we know it would open up as the game went on after grinding away at it in the first half.

“We were conscious we would need some quality on the bench, and fortunately those guys came on and delivered.”

Harlequins could have salvaged a bonus point from the contest late on as Dave Ward rumbled over at the back of a rolling maul, but Jackson’s crucial conversion was pulled just left of the posts.

And on the same night the club dedicated a plaque to the memory of Seb Adeniran-Olule in the tunnel at the Stoop, director of rugby John Kingston was frustrated his side had made costly errors in defence.

He said: “At 13-3 up at half-time we seemed to be in the ascendancy, and the guys had played extremely well.

“In the first quarter we had to defend extremely well, while in the second we were excellent in attack and thoroughly deserved the lead at half-time.

“Obviously we are really disappointed then to have fallen away and not got the result. Tigers came out in the second half and played like they had begun the first.

“We managed to quell them before with some excellent defence, but there were two pivotal moments for us in the penalty try and interception.

“It was our own fault but we were 14 points down then, and against a quality side like that you are going to find it very hard to come back.

“The top four is now out of our reach. We were honest enough to say coming into this game that for us it was a cup final, but the top four is now gone.”

Harlequins: Morris, Yarde, Marchant, Hopper (Walker 69), Alofa, N Evans (Jackson 31), Mulchrone, Lambert, Buchanan (Gray 63), A Jones (Shields 69), Merrick, Matthews, Chisholm, Ward, Luamanu (Nauopu 69).

Replacements not used: O Evans, South, L Jones.

Leicester Tigers: Veainu, Thompstone (Williams 51), Betham, Mermoz, Pietersen, Burns (Smith 61), Harrison (Kitto 61), Genge, McGuigan Youngs 51), Bateman, Wells (Williams 51), Barrow, Fitzgerald, O’Connor, McCaffrey (Hamilton 67).

Replacements not used:  Brugnara, Betts.

SCORERS

Harlequins

Tries: Alofa, Ward

Con: Evans

Pen: Evans, Jackson

Leicester Tigers

Tries: Harrison, Penalty, Burns

Con: Burns (2), Williams

Pen: Burns (2)

Referee: Dean Richards

Attendance: 14,800

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