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Harlequins win first Premiership title

Harlequins win first Premiership title

By Eurosport
Last update The 26/05/2012 at 19:55 -
By Eurosport - The 26/05/2012 at 19:55
Harlequins resisted a late Leicester Tigers charge to win their first Premiership title with a 30-23 win at Twickenham.

One of English rugby's most famous clubs finally clinched a league championship thanks to a 19-point run that saw them turn a two-point deficit into a commanding lead, giving them enough of a cushion to withstand a frantic Leicester flurry.

For the second year in a row, Leicester lost the final after failing to cross the line with the last play of the game. After Saracens held them off 12 months ago, there was a horrible sense of déjà-vu for Tigers, as another last-ditch assault on the opposition line fell short.

Although Richard Cockerill's side have been involved in the last eight Premiership finals, this was their fifth defeat in those matches.

Quins fly-half Nick Evans produced a typically metronomic kicking display, with 20 points. Tom Williams and Chris Robshaw went over for tries.

Trailing 30-13 with 13 minutes remaining, two superb Ben Youngs breaks set up Anthony Allen for a converted try, and George Ford to a penalty to reduce the margin to seven points.

Steve Mafi scored Leicester's other try, while Ford added another conversion and three penalties.

Evans kicked Quins into the lead with a dead-centre penalty on three minutes, but missed his next two kicks.

The first was a conversion from wide on the right after Williams raced over on the overlap; then Evans missed a penalty from an almost identical position - both attempts struck the right-hand upright.

Despite early Quins dominance, Leicester showed their predatory instinct to get back into the game thanks to two penalties from the teenage fly-half Ford, starting in place of Toby Flood who was on the bench despite still being hampered by injury.

And when Dan Cole and Mafi combined for a superb breakaway try, Leicester led 13-11 despite enjoying only a fraction of their opponents' first-half possession.

Thomas Waldrom was sin-binned two minutes before half-time, and Tigers' reduction to 14 men proved a catalyst for Quins' decisive push.

Evans immediately kicked a penalty to restore the London side's lead, then connected two more times early in the second with Leicester still reduced in numbers.

Robshaw crashed over from close range on 57 minutes, and Evans tacked on a conversion and yet another penalty to move Quins 30-13 ahead.

Just when Leicester looked dead and buried, Youngs made a scything break from a quickly-taken tap penalty and Allen went over.

Then another Youngs run set up Ford to kick Tigers to within a converted try of taking the game to extra-time.

But Quins steeled themselves, ran the clock down and stayed strong in the face of one last furious assault. Conor O'Shea's men are worthy champions of England.

 
 

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