Leicester Tigers completed a hat-trick of victories over NEC Harlequins this season with a comprehensive 43-26 win in the Zurich Wildcard semi-final at Welford Road. With captain Andre Vos sent to the sin-bin just before half-time, Quins conceded 19 points whilst down to 14 men that effectively put paid to their chances. However, Quins refused to give up and scored three tries in the final quarter.
Leicester dominated from the start and full back Andy Goode opened the scoring with a penalty after six minutes. The opening try of the contest followed 11 minutes later when fly half Jaco van der Westhuyzen charged down a clearance kick from Andy Dunne, deep inside the Quins twenty-two. The ball bounced kindly for van der Westhuyzen and he had the simple task of touching down under the posts. Goode converted and then kicked his second penalty of the match to put Leicester 13 points clear.
Quins hit back with a cracking try from Dunne. Gavin Duffy knocked back his own up and under allowing Scott Bemand to take play up to the Leicester line. With quick ball materialising, Dunne dived over from five metres out and then added the two extra points on offer that cut the deficit to six points (13-7).
Goode kicked his third penalty of the match after 29 minutes and as the half drew to a close Leicester were awarded a penalty try from referee Steve Lander. After Vos was shown a yellow card for a professional foul, the Tigers used their extra man in the pack to great effect. At a scrum five metres from the line, Lander deemed that the Quins front row had deliberately stood up in the set-piece and awarded Leicester the penalty try that Goode had no problems in converting. It meant that the home side led 23-7 at the interval.
Five minutes after the break and Neil Back finished off a catch and drive from the forwards after they won a lineout 15 metres from the Quins line. Goode failed with his conversion attempt but was called into action just two minutes later. Winger Geordan Murphy finished off a flowing move in the left hand corner after a fine break from centre Daryl Gibson and with Goode adding the two extra points, Leicester were now 35-7 in front.
Almost straight from the restart, the Tigers were on the attack once again and Austin Healey made ground down the left flank that took play into the Quins twenty-two. Despite Quins securing a turnover of possession, Bemand scuffed his clearance kick straight into the arms of his opposite number Harry Ellis, who was able to dive over for Leicester's fifth and final try. Even though Goode failed to convert the score, the home side were home and dry with 30 minutes left on the clock, leading by 40-7.
As the game entered the final quarter, Dunne sprinted clear from just inside the Tigers half for his second try under the posts, which he successfully converted to cut the deficit by seven points. With four minutes left on the clock, a cut out pass from Will Greenwood to Ugo Monye gave the winger the space he needed to sprint down the left wing and past Goode for a try in the corner. Adrian Jarvis, a replacement for Dunne, took over the kicking duties but failed with his conversion attempt from wide out.
With less than a minute left to play, Duffy gathered his own clearance chip and sprinted clear into the Tigers half. Despite Healey tracking back to stop the Quins full back, Greenwood was in support and was allowed to run-in unopposed for Quins fourth score of the evening. Jarvis found the target with the conversion but van der Westhuyzen had the last word with a drop goal just before the final whistle.
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.