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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 21:39 GMT 22:39 UK
Quins edge out feisty Tigers
Harlequins 26-23 Leicester

Harlequins failed to build on a dominant first-half display as Leicester ran them close in the first leg of the Zurich Premiership wild card semi-finals at The Stoop.

Harlequins centre Mel Deane touches down at The Stoop
Deane squirms over for Quins' second try
Mike Scott's side stormed to a 17-0 advantage at the interval only to see the Tigers roar back to within three points at the final whistle.

Leicester coach Dean Richards left it late before bringing on mighty foursome England skipper Martin Johnson, Darren Garforth, Dorian West and Graham Rowntree.

We controlled it for an hour but fair play to Leicester. They clawed it back
Mark Evans
Harlequins coach
His tactical substitutions gave fresh impetus to the visitors and gave them a great final chance of qualifying for the Heineken Cup next season.

Quins took full advantage of a sub-standard first-half display by an under-strength Leicester side.

The home side were lucky to get away with a blatant forward pass from number eight Tony Diprose before England centre Will Greenwood sent hooker Tani Fuga over for the first try.

Harlequins 26
Tries: Fuga, Deane
Cons: Burke 2
Pens: Burke 3
Drop Goals: Burke
Leicester 23
Tries: Murphy, Corry
Cons: Stimpson 2
Pens: Stimpson 3
Six minutes later scrum-half Matt Powell caught the Tigers defence cold and kicked ahead for centre Mel Deane to snatch the ball out of the air and touch down.

Fly-half Paul Burke converted both and added penalties in the 31st minute and the first minute of the second half to stretch the lead to 20-3.

But then came the 51st-minute introduction of Johnson, West and Garforth, followed eight minutes later by Rowntree replacing Perry Freshwater.

The Tigers finally found their feet as Geordan Murphy produced an electrifying burst through the middle for a superb solo try which Tim Stimpson converted to put Leicester back in contention.

I don't know if it's advantage Leicester or not
Dean Richards
Leeds coach
Burke missed two penalties, and Leicester's pack provided the platform to produce a threat every time they went forward.

Burke made amends with a 71st-minute penalty but Leicester stormed forward and Martin Corry ran over in the 77th minute.

Stimpson picked up the extras and glided over a long-range penalty two minutes into injury time to leave Leicester as favourites for the second leg.


Harlequins: N. Williams, Monye, Greenwood, Deane, Luger, Burke, M Powell, Leonard, Fuga, Gomez, Davison, Miall, Winters, Vos, Diprose. Replacements: Hayter, Jones, Evans, Rudzki, Sanderson, Bemand, Gollings.

Leicester: Stimpson, Murphy, Gelderbloom, Tuilagi, Lloyd, McMullen, Ellis, Freshwater, Chuter, Nebbett, Deacon, Corry, Short, Kronfeld, Balding. Replacements: West, Rowntree, Garforth, M. Johnson, J. Hamilton, Vesty, Skinner.

Referee: D Pearson (RFU)




SEE ALSO
Saracens thump Leeds
14 May 03  |  English

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