Late Esterhuizen try enough to get Quins over the line in epic game against Tigers

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                                   Harlequins   26   Leicester Tigers  20

                          Gallagher Premiership  Saturday 23rd April 2022

                                   Peter Moore  at the Stoop

A late Andre Esterhuizen try secured a crucial victory over leaders Leicester Tigers and inflicted Tigers fourth loss of the season.

The current Gallagher Premiership champions were on the front foot straight from the kick=off and within four minutes had opened the scoring.

Quins were awarded a penalty just outside the 22 with Marcus Smith electing to kick for touch. From the resulting line out Alex Dombrandt cut through a line before getting the ball away in the tackle to prop Will Collier to go over. Smith adder the extras to give first blood to Quins.

Tigers were quick to respond following a line out when Nemani Nadolo dived in under the posts. George Ford’s conversion under the posts brought the scores level.

Shortly afterwards Harlequins thought they had retaken the lead when Smith went over, only for the try to be ruled out by referee Wayne Barnes after consulting the TMO, after there was obstruction in the build-up.

Smith’s disappointment didn’t last long as from the resulting scrum the ball was thrown wide from Smith to Cadan Murley to dot down in the corner. Smith’s conversion went wide, but the home side held a narrow five point early advantage.

Hanro Liebenberg crashed over in the 28th minute to bring the scores level, following a Tigers line out.

Harlequins were winning a lot of scrum penalties during the afternoon, and from the fourth one of the half Quins edged in front after Smith slotted over from the tee to give Harlequins a narrow advantage at the break, leading 15-12.

Early in the second half, Quins turned to their replacements by bringing on a new front row. Captain Stephan Lewies was also replaced by Tom Lawday.

This absorbing contest toed and throwed with both sides responding when behind. This time it was the turn of Leicester to hit back in the 58th minute when Jaspar Wiese crossed. The conversion from Ford came off the post and went wide, but it meant that Tigers had taken the lead for the first time.

Harlequins responded when Smith picked out Louis Lynagh who thought he had run in to score, only for his effort to be disallowed for a foot in touch.

Quins nudged ahead once again when a penalty kick from Smith from under the posts was successful. It looked like Tigers would hit back quickly from the boot of Ford, but his long range effort was wide.

However Tigers were given another bite of the cherry when another penalty kick was awarded. This time Freddie Burns stepped up and saw his kick sail over the sticks.

With six minutes to go Harlequins re-took the lead when Smith threw the ball to  Esterhuizen to power over in the corner. Smith’s conversion was wide of the mark, with Quins leading 23-20 and all to play for.

With the last kick of the game, Quins won a crucial penalty with Smith electing to take the points. His effort sailed over the posts to give Harlequins the victory in an epic contest which lifted Harlequins above Saracens and in to second place in the table.

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