After relegation and Bloodgate had blemished the fine history of Harlequins, few expected Conor O’Shea to turn the club’s fortunes around so quickly.
But within three years of taking over, in 2012, the Irishman led his side to their first-ever Aviva Premiership Rugby crown.
Dominant throughout the season, Quins topped the table heading into the semi-finals and it was Leicester Tigers, contesting their eighth consecutive showpiece at Twickenham, on the receiving end.
Indeed if not for a late rally from Tigers, it could have been an even more convincing victory than the 30-23 scoreline suggests on a scorching May day at rugby HQ.
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Tom Williams’ early score put Quins in front while Nick Evans was unerring from the kicking tee all game. But Steve Mafi’s breakaway solo effort kept Tigers in contention.
After the break, man of the match – and, arguably, man of the season – Chris Robshaw picked a great line to crash over from short range and as Evans continued to pile on the misery from the kicking tee, Quins were coasting.
But in the final stages an inspired Ben Youngs brought Tigers back into the game and his initial break released Anthony Allen for a try under the posts that closed the gap to seven points with moments remaining.
What followed was a dramatic defensive last stand and after securing the all-important turnover under their own posts, Quins had achieved the unthinkable and claimed the first Premiership Rugby crown in their history.
O’Shea could scarcely contain his delight after the victory that he called a starting point for a new period in the club’s history.
“A couple of years ago, this team said it wanted to create a different chapter in Quins history,” he said.
“We want to be a great side. This has to be a starting point. We'll start from scratch next year, but we'll enjoy tonight.
“It's a very special day for the club. I'm so proud of the effort of those players.”
Meanwhile for Richard Cockerill and Leicester Tigers there was much to rue after a second successive defeat in the final.
“We didn't cherish the ball. We tried to force it a bit too much, which we didn't want to do.
“They outplayed us at times although we still managed to score two good tries and fight right until the end again. But they probably deserved it. We will go away now and regroup.”
Harlequins 30 Leicester Tigers 23
Harlequins: Brown; Williams, Lowe, Turner-Hall, Monye; Evans (Clegg 76), Care; Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Fa'asavalu (Guest 72), Robshaw, Easter Replacements not used: Buchanan, Lambert, Collier, Vallejos, Dickson, Hopper
Leicester Tigers: Murphy; Agulla (Hamilton 73), M Tuilagi, Allen, A Tuilagi; Ford (Twelvetrees 73), B Youngs; Ayerza (Mulipola 73), Chuter (T Youngs 61), Cole (Castrogiovanni 55), Skivington (Kitchener 73), Parling, Mafi, Salvi, Waldrom Replacements not used: Newby, Harrison
Tries: Williams, Robshaw
Penalties: Evans 6
Tries: Mafi, Allen
Conversions: Ford 2
Penalties: Ford 3
Referee: Wayne Barnes