Tigers claim vital win


Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Owen Williams kicked 17 points as Leicester beat Harlequins 22-16 at home to end a miserable run of three successive Aviva Premiership defeats.

The young Welsh centre kicked five penalties out of nine and converted a try by winger Blaine Scully to earn the Tigers only their second win of the season and relieve the pressure on director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

Harlequins, who have also had a mixed start to the season, scored a late try through scrum-half Karl Dickson while fly-half Nick Evans kicked 11 points.

Cockerill struck a defiant note before the game, insisting he was not worried about the sack after three straight defeats.

And, for a change, he had some good news. England centre Manu Tuilagi returned after injury and prop Marcos Ayerza was back after Argentina duty in the Rugby Championship. Also, World Cup winning All Black lock Brad Thorn and Italy prop Michele Rizzo made their home debuts.

Harlequins made two changes from the side that thumped London Welsh, Dickson replacing England scrum-half Danny Care whose wife has had a baby, and Will Collier starting in the front row.

Leicester, languishing near the foot of the table, made light of their injury problems, winning the first half 16-6 thanks to Scully’s try and a conversion and three penalties from Williams.

Evans kicked two penalties for Quins who endured a difficult 40 minutes and often failed to cope with the high balls that rained down on their defence.

Leicester got just the start they wanted, Scully scampering down the right wing in the fourth minute and shrugging off a desperate challenge from flanker Luke Wallace after Quins had lost the ball in the Tigers half.

Williams slotted the conversion and the match then developed into a kicking contest, with both sides using the high ball and attempting penalties from all over the pitch.

Williams kicked penalties from half-way, 46 metres and another from short range, while also missing two from near half-way, while Evans kicked two out of three.

Leicester came close to scoring a second try in the 21st minute after Quins failed to catch a towering kick from Freddie Burns. Winger Vereniki Goneva picked up the loose ball and seemed certain to score but was hunted down by centre Matt Hopper who forced him into touch.

Such was the kicking duel that it took Tuilagi 34 minutes to get his first real touch of the ball. And it continued after the interval.

Evans kicked a 46th minute penalty and Williams replied two minutes later. Inbetween Ayerza came on and the Tigers stepped up a gear.

They should have scored following a line-out but Williams failed to find Scully, his pass scuttling along the turf into touch.

With the big crowd getting behind Leicester and the rain hammering down, Williams had a chance to put some real daylight between the teams but missed with a 45-metre penalty in the 59th minute.

Quins prop Joe Marler and opposite number Fraser Balmain exchanged words after the visitors collapsed a scrum and Williams then slotted a simple penalty from in front of the posts to make it 22-9.

Quins, however, set up a grandstand finish thanks to a sniping try by Dickson from a ruck near the line with just eight minutes left, Evans kicking the conversion.

Williams missed a fourth penalty with four minutes left but the forwards managed to grind out the last few minutes to relieve the pressure on the former champions.

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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