Harlequins got their LV= Cup campaign off to a tremendous start with a richly-deserved 34-25 win over Leicester at Welford Road.
Harlequins got their LV= Cup campaign off to a tremendous start with a richly-deserved 34-25 win over Leicester at Welford Road on Friday.
The visitors fielded a strong side and outscored a disappointing Leicester side by three tries to one with Nick Evans proving to be the star turn, controlling play and scoring 19 points.
Apart from a strong scrummaging effort the Tigers were largely lifeless until the last 10 minutes and managed only six penalties from Billy Twelvetrees and a late penalty try.
Harlequins made a bright start and within three minutes were ahead. The Tigers were penalised at a ruck on halfway and Evans made no mistake with a splendid kick which belied the difficult playing conditions.
Within two minutes Leicester were level when centre Twelvetrees kicked a 30-metre penalty goal, but Evans soon restored Quins' advantage with a simple penalty.
The visitors continued to have the better of the opening exchanges and it came as no surprise when Evans extended the lead to 12-3 after 16 minutes, with two penalties in quick succession.
Despite incessant rain the Quins were playing some delightful rugby, moving the ball sweetly from inside their own half, but on one occasion they forced the pace too much causing scrum-half Karl Dickson to lose possession.
The Londoners were penalised and Twelvetrees knocked over the penalty to make it 12-6.
The Leicester centre kicked another penalty from the halfway line soon afterwards but Quins still looked the more creative side, with Leicester building up hardly any attacking momentum.
Slowly, however, the Tigers pack seemed to be getting on top in the set-piece area and when at one scrum the Quins pack were penalised Twelvetrees kicked another goal to level the scores.
The first try arrived in the 33rd minute and it deservedly went to Quins.
They broke away from a scrum 35 metres out and Tomas Vallejos sold a neat dummy to score the try which Evans converted before he missed with a long-range penalty.
Just before the interval Leicester were dealt a double blow when Rob Hawkins was sin-binned and Evans kicked the resulting penalty to leave the Tigers 22-12 adrift.
Twelvetrees cut into that lead with his fifth penalty six minutes into the second half, and Leicester received a further boost with the return of Hawkins with no major damage to the scoreline.
However almost immediately Quins scored their second try when Gonzalo Camacho fielded a kick ahead to race away and feed the supporting Tom Guest for the score which Evans again converted.
Harlequins lost former Leicester centre Ollie Smith through injury before Twelvetrees gave the Tigers a glimmer of hope with another penalty with a quarter of the match remaining, before being immediately substituted and replaced by Manu Tuilagi.
Harlequins effectively put the game beyond Leicester with their third try, after 65 minutes.
Receiving the ball from a line-out, Evans put in a beautifully judged cross-field kick which Camacho collected to score.
With eight minutes to go the Harlequins scrum lost Chris Brooker to the sin-bin.
Down to a seven-man pack, the visitors conceded a penalty try which George Ford converted, but despite coming under severe pressure they prevented further scores.
For Leicester:Try: Penalty try
Pens: Twelvetrees 6
Tries:Cinalli, Guest, Camacho
Pens: Evans 5
Leicester: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Alesana Tuilagi, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 George Ford, 9 Jason Spice, 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Ben Pienaar, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Ben Gulliver, 4 Calum Green, 3 Julian White, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Joe Duffey, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Peter Bucknall, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 James Grindal, 22 Geordan Murphy, 23 Manu Tuilagi.
Harlequins: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 13 Ollie Smith, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Gonzalo Camacho, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Will Skinner 6 Chris Robshaw (c), 5 George Robson, 4 Tomas Vallejos, 3 John Andress, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Mark Lambert, 19 Olly Kohn, 20 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Benjamin Urdapiletta.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)