Johne Murphy’s try after just 76 seconds set Leicester on their way to a convincing GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP victory over Harlequins as the Tigers moved into the play-off places.
Quins have never won in the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP at Welford Road and that run continued as wingers Matt Smith and Murphy grabbed scores while fly-half Derick Hougaard ended up with 17 points and a 100 per cent kicking record.
Quins rarely matched the heights they hit in last week’s superb win over London rivals Wasps but they did grab a late consolation try through replacement Chris Brooker.
Leicester, hit by injuries and international call-ups, gave a debut to full-back Scott Hamilton who turned in a very assured display.
And they made a dream start. Quins failed to gather Hougaard’s kick off and the fly-half gathered before combining with centre pairing Aaron Mauger and Dan Hipkiss to send Murphy over in the corner.
Hougaard’s touchline conversion sailed over and he then quickly exchanged penalties with opposite number Nick Evans.
After 13 minutes Quins knocked on in their own 22 and despite Mauger being hauled down inches from the tryline, Hougaard added a penalty after the visitors went offside.
Evans kicked three points on the half-hour mark but just two minutes later Leicester grabbed their second try.
Again Leicester’s centres were at the heart of the action as a superb run and off-load by Hipkiss found Mauger whose quick hands released Hougaard to touch down.
Another touchline conversion followed from the South African stand-off but Quins upped their game as the interval approached.
A great break by winger Tom Williams was halted just short but a Hipkiss infringement resulted in an Evans penalty to make the half-time score 20-9 to the Tigers.
Things did not get any better for the visitors immediately after the break.
Full-back Mike Brown kicked out on the full and the Leicester pack needed no second invitation to make the most of their attacking position.
Possession was secured and play switched from left to right with barrelling runs by Brett Deacon and Lewis Moody paving the way for a two-on-one opportunity for Matt Smith and Murphy.
Smith, though, opted not to use his wing partner and instead latched onto his own grubber kick to put Tigers firmly in the driving seat. Hougaard again made no mistake with his kick on the touchline to add the extras.
Harlequins enjoyed one of their best spells of possession immediately after the try but despite the promptings of Evans, they could not breach the Leicester defence with Hipkiss producing a try-saving tackle on outside centre Jordan Turner-Hall.
With Leicester desperately searching for the bonus point, their opportunity did come when Brooker found enough space to pile his way through.