Planet Rugby

Quins are champions of England

26th May 2012 14:29

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SKY_MOBILE twickenham leicester harlequins tom youngs tom williams

Early score: Tom Williams

Harlequins secured their debut Aviva Premiership crown after overcoming Leicester Tigers 30-23 in a classic match at Twickenham on Saturday.

It had looked like Quins had assured themselves of their first league title after possessing a 30-13 lead with 13 minutes to go. However, a late show from the Tigers made for an anxious conclusion.

But they managed to hold them off in the London sunshine as Richard Cockerill's gutsy men fell to back-to-back Aviva Premiership final defeats.

Despite eight points from George Ford's boot to go alongside a Steve Mafi touchdown, the league winners led 14-13 at half-time through three Nick Evans' penalties and a Tom Williams' try.

Two more three-pointers from Evans took them further clear before Chris Robshaw barged over.

Quins' New Zealand fly-half then added another from the tee which, although Leicester mounted a comeback with a converted try from Anthony Allen and a Ford penalty, secured the coveted trophy.

Despite Quins finishing top of the table, it was Leicester who were considered odds-on favourites having won their previous eleven encounters. However, the Midlands' outfit started slowly and the London-based side took the early initiative. It was similar to the way in which they opened last year's final with Sarries, allowing the opposition to dominate possession.

Credit must also go to Harlequins who seized an 8-0 advantage after 10 minutes. After Evans had kicked a penalty, Williams touched down for the first try of the match when good hands from Mike Brown sent the winger over.

The Tigers hit back through Ford before his opposite number restored their eight-point lead.

But it was Leicester who were gaining the initiative and, after their fly-half had reduced the arrears, Mafi sprinted clear from a Quins' mistake at a line-out, Ford converting.

On 39 minutes, the Twickenham Stoop side hit back. Thomas Waldrom was sin-binned for cynically slowing the ball down and Evans converted the resultant penalty opportunity.

Into the second period and successive three-pointers from Evans took Quins six ahead.

And then the killer blow. After successive drives, Robshaw's fine line saw him crash over.

Evans scored a sixth penalty, but Leicester responded with Allen's try thirteen minutes from time. The Quins' nerves became even more frazzled when Ford reduced the deficit to seven points. However, the London-based outfit deservedly held on despite a late onslaught.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Tries: Williams, Robshaw
Con: Evans
Pen: Evans 6

For Leicester:
Tries: Mafi, Allen
Con: Ford 2
Pen: Ford 3

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (capt), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Matt Hopper.

Leicester: 15 Geordan Murphy (capt), 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 George Skivington, 3 Dan Cole, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Craig Newby, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Scott Hamilton.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Dave Pearson, Paul Dix
Television match official: Geoff Warren

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