Leicester 25-29 Harlequins: Tigers too tame but visitors move top

Leicester 25-29 Harlequins: Tigers too tame as they fail to get back on track despite welcoming back their World Cup stars… with the visitors moving top after bonus-point triumph

  • Leicester missed out on the chance to return to form after losing to Harlequins 
  • A top-four spot looks unlikely at this early stage despite several players returning
  • Head coach Dan McKellar claims his side were the masters of their own downfall 

This was the day Leicester were supposed to get back on track.

It didn’t happen. South Africans Handre Pollard and Jasper Wiese were cheered as World Cup winners before kick-off and the Tigers had their England stars back too.

Dan McKellar’s side still didn’t have enough for victory. Leicester have now lost four of their five Premiership games so far this season. It is still early days, but a top-four spot looks unlikely.

Leicester did most of the running but were outscored five tries to three and made too many errors. Harlequins went top with a bonus-point success even with Marcus Smith producing a poor display in his No 10 battle with Pollard. 

The glum look on Dan Cole’s face as Leicester tried and failed to push for what would have been a late, match-winning try said everything.

Leicester Tigers’ top four hopes slipped further away after their defeat by Harlequins

Despite welcoming back several World Cup stars, Leicester crashed to a home setback

Marcus Smith was back to star at No 10 for Quins on his return from World Cup duty in France

Leicester head McKellar’s face looked haunted at the final whistle as he digested a game his team should have won. The only consolation was a losing bonus.


Leicester Tigers 

Tries: Liebenberg, Steward (2)

Cons: Pollard (2) 

Pens: Pollard (2)


Tries: Dombrandt, Lamb (2), Green, Porter 

Cons: Smith (2)

Referee: Ian Tempest (RFU) 

Attendance: 20,433 

Star man: Dino Lamb (Harlequins)

‘We beat ourselves,’ said McKellar. ‘There were errors at critical moments. We did enough to win but we didn’t take the opportunities.

‘Defensively we need to be much better. It was five soft tries conceded at home. That’s got to change. We have to beat Northampton next week – it’s as simple as that.

‘We are in a position now where we can’t drop many more games.’ 

Smith was back to start at 10 for Harlequins after the World Cup. He jumped for joy at the final whistle.

It won’t console anyone of Leicester persuasion, but this was another entertaining Premiership game. 

There were five first-half tries, away No 8 Alex Dombrandt getting the scoring going.

Dino Lamb got the visitors’ second and Tyrone Green produced another acrobatic finish for the second weekend running.

Hanro Liebenberg and Freddie Steward kept Leicester in the contest.

So too did Smith’s errant kicking from the tee.

England full-back Steward grabbed his second at the start of the second half, bravely calling for the ball to finish when clearly struggling with injury.

Will Porter sold the Leicester defence a wonderful dummy to snipe over. 

Freddie Steward (centre left) notched up two tries, but both ultimately proved to be in vain

Will Porter powered over for the visitors after selling a wonderful dummy to snipe over

But when Pollard nailed a penalty to put Tigers ahead by a point, it looked like the Springboks No 10’s kicking – as it was for his country at the World Cup – would be enough to give his team victory.

But Lamb scored another close-range effort and even though Smith missed the conversion and Tigers pushed hard at the death, they made too many mistakes to win.

‘It’s a sprint and you can’t wait until Christmas to start winning games,’ said Harlequins attack coach Nick Evans. ‘We knew we had to start fast but we won’t get ahead of ourselves.

‘I’m pleased and proud. If you get a result here you have to earn it and I thought we did. The game got messy but we stuck in it. I think we got our preparation right.’

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