Leicester Tigers picked up their second straight Aviva Premiership Rugby win as they beat Harlequins 31-28 in a breathless, high-quality affair at Twickenham Stoop.
Tigers had a slender 11-9 lead at the interval, Telusa Veainu’s try the difference regardless of Marcus Smith outscoring mentor George Ford by three penalties to two.
And despite tries for Danny Care, Mat Luamanu and Alofa Alofa in a furious second half, Jonny May and Greg Bateman also scored for Leicester – with two more Ford penalties sealing a narrow away triumph.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) September 23, 2017
The hosts started off on the front foot, building the phases before winning a penalty right in front of the posts for Smith to slot through, but Ford produced a swift response from the tee as Tigers won a scrum penalty.
Leicester then found themselves ahead after 11 minutes courtesy of Veainu’s first try of the season; Tigers got quick ball out to the left and after being released by Jonny May, the full-back used all his momentum to hold off Joe Marchant, Charlie Walker and Mike Brown to dot the ball down.
Ford missed the touchline conversion attempt and over the next quarter of an hour Smith’s boot edged Quins ahead once more – the young No.10 making no mistake with two routine penalties.
Despite the hosts coming close to a score when Smith intercepted a loose Ben Youngs pass deep in the Leicester half, he could not offload to Chris Robshaw before being tackled into touch by Veainu.
And it was Tigers who went into the break ahead with another penalty after Rob Buchanan was pinged for not rolling away.
But Care’s quick thinking resulted in a tap-and-go score under the posts after Alofa made ground off the back of scrum and Ellis Genge conceded a penalty.
Moments later more Quins pressure in defence forced the mistake from Veainu, and Marland Yarde’s perfect offload to Luamanu saw the No.8 rumble over in the right corner.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) September 23, 2017
Tigers now trailed 21-11 but fought fire with fire after sin-bins for Ellis Genge and Will Collier from the same scrum opened up some space.
May was the first beneficiary as he scored a 52nd-minute try made by Matt Toomua, before Ford’s flat pass to Bateman allowed the replacement prop to dance through the Quins defence five minutes later and put Leicester ahead.
The remarkably frantic second half continued as Alofa bisected the Tigers defence to score from Care’s pass, but two Ford penalties edged the visitors 31-28 ahead with seven minutes remaining.
Leicester threw the kitchen sink at the hosts’ line in search for a bonus-point try, but while Dom Barrow just knocked on from close range, Quins could not get the ball up the other end for a match-winning score.
Alright #tigersfamily, you can breathe out now.
Wow, what an tense finish it was to that match. #HARvLEI
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) September 23, 2017