A wonderful try from Mathew Tait put the finishing touches to a rampant 33-16 victory for Leicester Tigers, who booked a place in their ninth consecutive Aviva Premiership final at the expense of Harlequins.
Niki Goneva, Niall Morris, Tom Croft and Tait all crossed the whitewash as the Tigers exacted revenge on defending champions Quins for their defeat in last year’s Aviva Premiership final.
Harlequins certainly put up a considerable fight and enjoyed the best of the first half but Goneva’s score just before the interval handed the Tigers the momentum and they proved too hot to handle after the break.
Leicester drew first blood on three minutes when Geoff Parling was taken out in the air at the lineout by George Robson – Toby Flood making no mistake from the tee to give the hosts the lead.
But just two minutes later Quins were level when the Tigers were penalised at the ruck inside their 22 with Dan Cole coming in at the side and Nick Evans slotting the kick.
Quins continued to carry the fight to the Tigers and were enjoying the greater possession and they took the lead on 12 minutes when Evans struck his second penalty after Leicester were penalised at the scrum.
Flood then saw a long-range penalty drop just short but the Tigers grew into the game, thanks in no small part to hooker Tom Youngs – named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season this week – embarked on two galloping runs.
But it was Quins who came within millimetres of the first try on 28 minutes when Danny Care sniped on the short side and only a superb tackle from Croft denied him.
Soon after Quins were handed a penalty in front of the posts however and Evans slotted his third of the match to extend the visitors’ lead before it was Care’s turn to prevent a certain try, collecting Flood’s kick through to deny Goneva.
That sparked a period of Tigers pressure and they were eventually awarded a penalty directly in front of the posts on 34 minutes – Flood slotting the kick to trim the deficit to three.
And on the stroke of half-time, Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs pounced on the loose ball in the middle of the field and the ball was worked wide to Goneva who sped down the left, evaded the tackle of Tom Williams and raced under the posts before Flood converted for a 13-9 lead at the interval.
Buoyed by that score, Tigers began fiercely after the break and exerted considerable pressure on Quins which eventually told on 52 minutes when Care was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on after a mazy run from Tait.
Tigers wasted their first chance to extend their lead however with Flood missing the subsequent penalty Quins appeared to be weathering the storm until Tigers grabbed their second try of the match, 30 seconds before Care was due to return.
Another fine run from Tait found Manu Tuilagi in space on the left and he burst past Ben Botica before feeding Niall Morris inside, who raced clear under the posts for his ninth Aviva Premiership career score on 61 minutes.
Flood converted and just two minutes later, Tigers wrapped up the match and it was Tait once more who provided the impetus, freeing the impressive Tom Croft who blitzed his way to the try-line from all of 50 metres.
Once more Flood added the extras and with Leicester rampant, a fourth try came on 72 minutes and again Tait was at the fore, finding Morris on the right wing and supporting inside to receive the ball back and speed clear to the try-line.
This time Flood was unable to convert and while Ross Chisholm finished off an impressive move with three minutes remaining, it was of little consolation as the Tigers march on to Twickenham.
The Aviva Premiership Rugby final has sold out for the last five years. To snap up one of the remaining tickets go to ticketmaster.co.uk or call 0844 844 0444