Aviva PremiershipHarlequins (9) 28Tries: Care, Luamanu, Alofa Cons: Smith, Swiel Pens: Smith 3Leicester (11) 31Tries: Veainu, May, Bateman Cons: Ford 2 Pens: Ford 4
Leicester prevailed in a rollercoaster six-try Premiership game against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.
The visitors took a two-point lead into the break, with Telusa Veainu scoring the only try of the first half.
Harlequins surged 21-11 ahead after tries from Danny Care and Mat Luamanu, but Tigers roared back to 25-21 up with scores from Jonny May and Greg Bateman.
Alofa Alofa put the hosts back in front with 17 minutes to go before George Ford’s boot sealed a tough away win.
After a tricky start to the season for Leicester, which included back-to-back losses, this second victory in as many games illustrated another step up in performance for Matt O’Connor’s side.
Full back Veainu impressed throughout, igniting the first-half with his electric feet and keeping Harlequins honest throughout.
In front of a watching Eddie Jones, Ford and Marcus Smith duelled at fly-half – the former showing the fruits of his experience, sparking Tigers’ ever improving back line, standing up defensively and making the difference off the tee.
At the same time Smith pushed Harlequins around the park with a maturity belying his 18 years, and John Kingston will hope that the injury that forced him from the field is not too serious.
Four of the match’s five tries were scored in the second-half with two forwards – Luamanu and Bateman – showing their power, while May notched up his fourth in four Premiership games.
The England winger out-sprinted his international rival Yarde down the left-wing in a final 40 minutes that was one of the most frenetic of the season, and will have given England’s head coach plenty of food for thought.
Harlequins director of rugby John Kingston:
Marcus was excellent, he did what was asked of him. His development as a player is continuing to go forward. I understand the attention he’s getting because he’s started the season strongly and is doing so well.
“It was a roller-coaster with two very good sides going at it hammer and tongs. A couple of things went for Leicester, the turning points.
“I can’t question the attitude and commitment of the players, they worked their backsides off. We have to take the hurt from losing very, very badly.”
Leicester head coach Matt O’Connor:
“Never in doubt? It was always in doubt! It was a tough game of footy and both teams had really good intentions about playing ball in hand. It delivered as a spectacle.”
Harlequins: Brown; Yarde, Marchant, Roberts, Walker; Smith, Care; Lambert, Buchanan, Collier; Merrick, Horwill (capt); Robshaw, Clifford, Luamanu.
Replacements: Ward, Boyce, Sinckler, Matthews, Glynn, Lewis, Swiel, Alofa.
Leicester: Veainu; Malouf, Smith, Toomua May; G. Ford, Youngs; Genge, Youngs (capt), Cole; Wells, Barrow; Williams, Ryan, Kalamafoni.
Replacements: Thacker, Bateman, Mulipola, Hamilton, Mapapalangi, Harrison, J. Ford, Tait.