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Leicester vs Harlequins :Pilkington Cup Final 1993

By Mike Hill
July 18 2002

On a stunning hot and sunny May afternoon Tigers ended five years of drought by securing the cup for the fourth time. It had been a difficult few years since winning the inaugural league in the 1987/88 season. Leicester 23 - Harlequins 16

Bath were dominating both cup and league competitions but change was in the air. The Tigers had brought in some talented newcomers who were beginning to make a name for themselves.

The ABC club of Rowntree, Cockerill and Garforth was just coming into it's own and starting to terrify front rows across the land. Not to forget the promise shown by a certain Martin Johnson and Neil Back. Add to this the likes of Matt Poole, the current captain John Wells and Deano in his prime and Leicester had a formidable pack.

The backs were quite useful too the half back pairing of Aadel Kardooni and drop goal king Jez Harris worked well with Stuart Potter strong and quick at outside centre. Rory and Tony Underwood provided plenty of pace on the wings.

Quins had one of their best ever sides including the likes of Will Carling, Jason Leonard, Chris Sheasby and in his final game Peter Winterbottom. They were, as always, a far better cup than league team and posed a serious threat to Tigers hopes of a first cup win for 12 years.

Looking back at the video Leonard and Sheasby look little different in fact I bet Leonard was born with that stubble. Old bum chin Carling has put some weight on though. Another who looked little different was Tony Spreadbury refereeing his first cup final. He used to be a Paramedic which could have come in handy this season if he could remain conscious long enough to treat himself.

Tigers had beaten Wayne Shelford's Northampton in the semi-final putting on a marvellous display at Welford Road whilst Quins had narrowly beaten Wasps. Being starved of cup success for so long meant Tigers fans were desperate to renew acquaintance with Twickenham and over 25,000 fans headed down the M1 that day.

We outnumbered Quins supporters at least 4-1 on the day and the streets of South West London were awash with green, red and white. Twickenham was midway through it's rebuilding program at the time and we sat in the old West Stand looking out on the new enormous partly built North and East stands.

As for the game Tigers started well but it was Quins who scored first. After an up and under caused havoc in the Leicester defence Quins recycled the ball and the scrum half Glenister scored from close range foiling John Wells vain attempt to hold him up.

Challinor slotted the conversion from close to the right touchline before Tigers responded with a try of their own. Fullback John Liley's carving run through the heart of the Quins defence set the ruck for Back to put Stuart Potter into space. Five Quins defenders were left floundering as Potter through an outrageous dummy and destroyed Carling for pace to score under the posts.

Liley slotted the conversion to make the scores level before Challinor replied with a penalty goal to take the lead once more. A short range drop goal from Jez Harris was matched by a further Challinor penalty and the teams turned around with Harlequins leading 13 -10. Tigers began to take control in the second period and following a further succesful penalty goal were awarded a tap penalty on the Quins 22 metre line. Some clever misdirection using multiple runners led to Johnson taking the ball from the pivot and marching through to score almost unopposed.

The conversion gave the Tigers a seven point lead which they never looked like losing. One more penalty apiece gave a final score line of 23 -16 and Leicester had just won the first trophy of a new era. John Wells' face was a delight for one so normally quiet and reserved it obviously meant the world to him to lift the Pilkington Cup as Leicester captain.

For the likes of the front row, Backy and Johnson this was just the beginning of a golden period when they would slowly build a team capable of taking on the best which culminated in last seasons European Cup triumph.

Attendance: 54,000

Tigers winning team : A Graham Rowntree, B Richard Cockerill, C Darren Garforth, D Martin Johnson, E Matt Poole, F JohnWells (capt), G Dean Richards, I Aadel Kardooni, J Jez Harris, K Tony Underwood, L Ian Bates, M Stuart Potter, N Rory Underwood, O John Liley

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