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Harlequins 24 Leicester Tigers 20 Harlequins 24 Leicester Tigers 20

Match Summary

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Harlequins 24 Leicester Tigers 20

Mike Brown produced a devastating finish to secure Harlequins a crucial victory at home to Leicester Tigers and keep alive their hopes of reaching the Aviva Premiership play-offs.

A frantic first-half saw the two sides head in locked at 13-13 after Quins countered a Niki Goneva try and eight points from Toby Flood with a penalty score and the boot of Nick Evans.

The Tigers crossed early in the second half through Jamie Gibson but Mike Brown finished superbly with 11 minutes to go and Ben Botica kicked a late penalty to see the game out.

The victory lifted Quins to within a point of Bath Rugby in the final play-off position while a home semi-final now looks unlikely for defending champions Leicester.

The game began at breakneck speed with Leicester first edging ahead through a penalty from Flood and then shredding the Harlequins defence on the counter attack for the first score.

After turning over Quins deep inside their own half, the Tigers tore up the middle of the pitch with Jordan Crane finding Goneva despite a fine late attempt at a tackle from Danny Care.

The Aviva Premiership’s top try-scorer then took off at top speed to roar under the posts for his 11th score of the campaign.

After the TMO reviewed Crane’s pass and gave the green light, Flood – in for the impressive Welsh youngster Owen Williams at No.10 – slotted the extras with ease.

After five minutes Quins were already ten points behind and the game was starting to get away from the home side.

Evans steadied the sip with a penalty and then Quins attempted to respond by doing what they do best – attacking.

First Brown broke down the left and chipped ahead with Goneva making a crucial interception and from the lineout Quins worked the ball to the Tigers’ line but conceded a penalty.

The action was relentless and after failing to garner any points from their assault, Quins were punished when Blaine Scully burst up the right wing and the Tigers eventually earned a penalty that Flood converted for a 13-3 lead.

Evans again kept Quins in the contest with a second penalty of the night and it was only superb defence from Tigers centres Anthony Allen and Manu Tuilagi that held Luke Wallace up over the line after a superb grubber kick from the Kiwi fly-half.

Yet the resistance could not hold out until half-time with Quins levelling the match through that rarest of prizes – a penalty try given against the Leicester scrum. Evans’ conversion tied the teams at 13-13 heading into the break.

Both sides took time to rediscover the height of their first-half efforts after the break with Evans missing a penalty attempt, but Quins thought they had taken the lead after 50 minutes.

After going through multiple phases, Scully fumbled the ball over his own line and Brown pounced to touchdown.

However, replays showed Brown had been beaten to the touch by Scully. Quins came again and this time it was Kyle Sinckler who was held up on the line.

Quins finally made their pressure pay when Leicester were again penalised in the scrum and Evans kicked them into a 16-13 lead.

The Tigers responded instantly with a bulldozing break from Tuilagi and when Quins were then penalised for offside, Leicester switched play to the right and Gibson went over for the try.

Departing fly-half Flood kicked an excellent conversion to extend the lead to 20-16 before making way for Williams.

Both sides were then reduced to 14 men as Harlequins’ George Robson and Leicester’s Pablo Matera were sent to the sin-bin.

Quins sent Botica on in place of Evans and the Kiwi threw a wonderful pass to find Brown charging up on the left wing and the England full-back cut between Scully and Mat Tait to cross for a try.

Botica was wide with the conversion attempt but before the two sides could be restored to a full XV, Tigers lost Julian Salvi to the bin and it was left to the Kiwi fly-half to have the last word when he kicked a penalty to give Quins an added cushion.

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