By Bedfordshire Boy
November 27 2016
After an enjoyable lunch on the outskirts of Leicester we joined the traffic heading towards Welford Road to find somewhere to park followed by a 10 minute walk to the stadium. Luckily the doom and gloom of the weather forecasters was wrong yet again so no sign of the heavy rain and strong wind so the possibility of a fairly open game. With Tigers being far from invincible in recent seasons Quins must be in with a chance of getting something from the match, heading home with a losing bonus point was my prediction and I suspect probably as much as the coaching team was expecting.
A pretty uninspiring start to the game with the penalty account against Tigers mounting until 10 minutes into the match when one was awarded within the kicking range of Nick Evans. The kick was easily converted and Quins led by 3 points. It began to look as though we were going to be treated to the aerial ping pong version of rugby on this Sunday afternoon although Quins did look dangerous on a rare attacking move when the ball went along the line for Alofa to kick through but the ball ran behind the Tigers dead ball line. Yet another high kick into the Quins half from Freddie Burns saw Morris gather the ball but get penalised for holding on. A slightly wobbly conversion kick from Burns followed but the ball did straighten up to bring the scores level on 16 minutes.
A good chase by Marland Yarde from the kick off saw him tackle the receiver well inside the Tiger 22 but the ball was recycled and Burns made a good clearance kick to the half way line. Going to have a moan now as the touch judge right in front of our position continuously signals for the Tigers back line to remain 10 metres behind the line out but just allows them to continue when his demands are totally ignored and which ultimately leads to the next Tigers score. Not the best of line outs by Quins eventually forces Dickson to attempt a clearance kick which allows Tigers to set up a good attacking phase of play which eventually comes to a halt when Charlie Matthews is penalised for kicking the ball out of the ruck. Returning to my moan, it is at this stage when Burns is lining up for the penalty kick that the touch judge suggests to the referee that he should look out for the Tigers defence encroaching the 10 metre defensive line at the line out! Anyhow, back to the match and Burns edges Tigers ahead on the scoreboard to bring the score to Tigers 6, Quins 3 after 20 minutes of play.
The game continued with neither team able to make any real progress but Quins are eventually rewarded with a penalty well inside the Tigers 22 which is easily converted by Nick Evans bringing the scores level again after 24 minutes. With the onset of rain the game continues with neither side making much headway with both sets of defence snuffing out any attacking moves. After 31 minutes and with play stopped for a scrum to Quins, Tom Croft leaves the field for an HIA and is replaced by Graham Kitchener. Quins are penalised at their own scrum for early engagement followed by Horwill being unluckily penalised for a high tackle. Charlie Matthews steals the ball at the Tigers line out from the penalty and as they play out of defence Matthews is a bit surprised to again find himself with the ball and is penalised for holding onto the ball. A comfortable conversion kick by Burns takes Tigers back into the lead with 5 minutes left on the clock until half time which ticked away with nothing really of note. Not the best 40 minutes of rugby that I have ever watched with to my mind, Quins just edging it despite being behind on the scoreboard.
The rain continues as the two teams enter the field for the second half with Kitchener remaining in the Tigers line up for Tom Croft. It was Tigers who were quickly into their stride from the off and a series of attacking moves a few metres from the Quins line eventually resulted in a penalty in front of the posts. Burns dived over the line from a quick penalty but was brought back by the referee who said the penalty was taken from in front of the mark. Tigers then settled for a kick at goal which Burns easily converted, Tigers 12 Quins 6 after only 5 minutes from the restart. Tigers were quickly attacking within the Quins 22 and are rewarded by 3 more points from a well taken drop goal by Freddie Burns on 48 minutes. All of a sudden Quins are more than a single score behind with Tigers looking by far the stronger team. Owen Evans replaces Dan Murphy for Quins. At long last Quins manage an attack which breaks down when they are awarded a penalty which Nick Evans kicks to the Tigers 22. Marcos Azeyra replaces Ellis Genge in the Tigers front row.
Quins mount a series of attacks from the line out but seem unable to make any headway beyond the Tigers 22 and eventually a misplaced pass is put straight into touch. Tigers win their own line out and Kitto places a kick deep into the Quins half which James Chisholm gathers before being tackled by the chasing winger Thompstone. Chisholm fails to release the ball after the tackle and the penalty from Burns is kicked to the Quins 5 metre line. Tigers set up the catch and drive which Quins defend illegally but Tigers release the ball which is passed to Burns to places a very neat chip over the Quins defence for Owen Williams to gather and fall over the line for the first try of the match. A very simple conversion from Burns leaves Quins with a mountain to climb with the scoreline at 22 points to 6 in favour of Tiger after 55 minutes. Youngs and Kitto are replaced by Thatcher and Harrison for Tigers as Quins restart the game.
Tigers are now playing with a lot more freedom and Quins defence is getting stretched and they are unlucky not to score their second try when Burns spills the ball 2 metres from the try line just a few minutes later. Walker and Swiel replace Marchant and Evans while Quins prepare for a defensive scrum in the corner but Tigers are penalised for an early engagement. Tim Swiel makes a good touch from a tight angle and Tigers take a quick throw but for once the Quins chase is rewarded with a penalty when Tigers are penalised for holding on. Swiel kicks to the corner but is over ambitious as the ball is gathered by the Tigers defence and kicked straight back into the Quins half of the field. As Quins run the ball back Tigers are again penalised to concede another penalty for not releasing. This time the left footed Morris kicks for the right side touch and once again the ball falls short - you really do have to make these chances count.
Following another period of loose play, the referee goes back for a pretty harsh tackle by Alofa giving Tigers another chance to add to Quins misery. Burns adds yet another 3 poits to his personal tally for the afternoon to bring the score to Tigers 25, Quins 6 after 63 minutes. Shortly afterwards Tait and Yarde seem to clash heads when competing for a high ball and both leave the field for an HIA with Worth and Mulchrone coming on to the field. A scrum is awarded to Quins which then becomes a penalty and Quins have no option but to kick for the corner and hopefully set up a catch and drive. Quins get the initial drive going and get the ball to within a metre of the line but it eventually emerges on the Tigers side of the ruck. It gets even better for Tigers when Quins are penalised for offside as Tigers try to work the ball away from their line and they clear the ball to halfway from the kick. A number of player changes followed including Ayzera who looked somewhat worse for wear.
A clash of heads between Charlie Walker and Freddie Burns resulted in the former being bandaged and the latter leaving the field for an HIA at the next break of play for a penalty to Quins. With 13 minutes to go Quins kick to the corner and the resulting catch and drive is yet again stopped by Tigers a couple of metres short. This time the ball is shipped out to Walker on the wing who is halted illegally and Quins are awarded another penalty which is again kicked to touch. Marland Yarde returns to the field and Mulchrone returns to the bench. This time Tigers get the ball as they attack Horwill in the line and clear the ball to halfway but Quins run the ball straight back and are awarded yet another penalty for a tackle on James Chisholm. Referee Maxwell-keys asks the TMO to look at the tackle and it was interesting to listen to them discussing the incident on the reflink – the referee thought that there was no foul play but changed his mind after the TMO suggested that he look again. The out come was yellow card for Fitzgerald for a tip tackle but he was joined by Chisholm who was carded for retaliation and to make matters worse, the penalty was reversed.
Tigers kick to touch and Adam Jones and Stan South come onto the field for Quins as replacements. The line out is adjudged as being not straight and before the scrum can be taken James Horwill has to leave the field holding his hand which turned out to be a fractures/dislocated finger and will now be absent from the Quins line up for many weeks. Matt Shields replaces Horwill and Freddie Burns returns following his HIA. A very scrappy end to the game with mistakes from both sides and Charlie Mulchrone coming on for the last 4 minutes replacing Karl Dickson.
All in all a pretty poor game for the nearly 26000 supporters that turned out to watch with Tigers earning their victory by upping their game during the third quarter of the match. Thought that the Quins defence over all was pretty good and handling errors were quite low up until the last 10 minutes. Sadly, the attack was lacking any bite and a try never looked on the cards. The loss of James Horwill is pretty devastating news although rumour has it that Merrick could be fit for the game against Bath.
Highlight of the day for me was Lunch!