A second try from Jaco van der Westhuyzen, converted by Andy Goode, three minutes from the end helped Leicester Tigers to secure a 30-21 victory over NEC Harlequins at Welford Road. Quins staged a tremendous fight back after being 17-0 down after the opening quarter but ultimately paid the price for conceding 14 points whilst down to 14 men early in the first half.
Tigers full back Andy Goode opened the scoring with a penalty after just two minutes and seven minutes later Tani Fuga received a yellow card for dangerous play. It wasn't long before the home side capitalised on having an extra man advantage.
The Tigers pack took play up to the Quins twenty-two with some powerful driving play through the midfield and Goode then broke through before giving van der Westhuyzen a clear run to the line with an inside pass. Goode converted and was called into action with the boot once again after 22 minutes.
The pack set-up the platform once more and the combination of dummy runners and van der Westhuyzen's perfectly timed pass allowed centre Daryl Gibson to burst through unchallenged for a try under the posts. With Goode adding the two extra points on offer, the home side had their 17-point lead.
Back came Quins and two minutes later Andy Dunne converted his first penalty of the night after a superb run down the right flank from Simon Keogh, which resulted in the Tigers being penalised for being offside. Five minutes before the interval and Dunne kicked another penalty to cut the deficit to 17-6 at half-time.
Quins then made a bright start to the second half and after Matt Moore was brilliantly tackled inches from the line by Tigers number eight Henry Tuilagi, Gavin Duffy scored a cracking individual try. Van der Westhuyzen sliced a clearance kick that Duffy collected on the right hand touchline. Despite appearing to be well covered, the Quins full back broke through a number of tackles and won the race to the line for a try by the posts. Dunne's conversion put Quins right back in contention with the score now 17-13 in Leicester's favour.
Goode then outscored Dunne two penalties to one to give Leicester a seven-point advantage with 17 minutes left on the clock. However, the outcome was once again in the balance when Josh Taumalolo scored in the corner with eight minutes to go. Replacement Steve Booth fielded his own up and under but only managed to tap the ball back into open play and Fuga gratefully accepted to take possession into the Leicester twenty-two.
Pat Sanderson was in support and he gave the scoring pass to Taumalolo, who just managed to touchdown in the corner despite being tackled by Tuilagi. Dunne failed to convert from right on the touchline, which would have levelled the score at 23-apiece, and almost immediately from the restart, van der Westhuyzen scored his crucial second try.
Tuilagi took play into the Quins twenty-two and with the visitors defence scrambling to get across, van der Westhuyzen sprinted through the gap and dived in under the posts. Goode's successful conversion put Leicester two scores clear (30-21).
In a dramatic finish, Taumalolo was just wide with a long-range penalty attempt that would have put Quins in bonus point territory, which their effort deserved, while the home side couldn't cross the line for a fourth try that would have given them the full five points.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.