Aviva Premiership - Harlequins win first Premiership title

Sat, 26 May 16:56:00 2012

Harlequins resisted a late Leicester Tigers charge to win their first Premiership title with a 30-23 win at Twickenham.

2012 Harlequins - 0

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.

Alex Chick - @alexchick81 / Eurosport

Comment 1 - 21 of 21

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  1. I'm a Tigers fan and say well done to Quins, you­ guys topped the League and 'were' Champions in­ everyone's eyes but, we Tigers fans are not­ necessarily Pro the play off's. All I see you­ saying is exactly what we have said previously when­ topping the League, winning or losing in the Prem­ Final. If Man City or Utd or Chelsea have topped the­ footy league there is no way they should have to go­ back and win it over again. Pleased for you Quins,­ especially given your recent history, nuff saId, but­ please do not tar us with the brush that we love the­ play off's. The fact we've worked the system­ to our advantage better than anyone else is secondary­ and......as I say, top of the League are and always­ should be Champions. The play off's are a money­ spinner for Rugby that's all, but at least it­ allows for World Cups, England duty etc etc.

    From Niggle, on Mon 28 May 10:30
  2. Quins proved themselves Premiership Champions and the­ best team over the season when they were top after the­ last game of the league season, end of story. Same goes­ for all the other seasons. The play offs between the­ top four is just a cup compettion to generate a bit­ more interest, and if a team that finished 4th in the­ table wins the play offs, thats fine call them­ something else like 'play off winners' but they­ sure aint the champs. be interesting to see if­ anyone disagrees

    From andrew LADKIN, on Sun 27 May 11:48
  3. I think that Quins played exceptionally as I was­ actually there, The crow was so supportive and cheered­ the team on. Well done Johnston and big well done to­ Marler who didnt give up. Well done Quins and my family­ have just bought season tickets so will see you next­ season!!! :)

    From Molly, on Sun 27 May 11:22
  4. Justice done, unlike most years, the team that finished­ top actually won it

    From Christopher, on Sun 27 May 9:30
  5. Hooray!!! It wasn't bloody Leicester, but I guess­ all the anti play off types are tiger fans............

    From V for Vendetta, on Sat 26 May 23:52
  6. Where did the idea of a play off come from? Whats the­ problem with the team winning the league being the­ champions as they always were? Sounds like a money­ spinner to me.

    From Dun Roamin, on Sat 26 May 23:29
  7. Nick Evans is a fine player.

    From Half A Brain, on Sat 26 May 23:17
  8. post 13....let`s not get carried away now...

    From Jim, on Sat 26 May 22:23
  9. Despite being on the losing side Allen put in a good­ performance. After a shaky start in the scrum Marler­ was outstanding. Well done Harlequins, you have played­ some excellent rugby this season and have earned your­ right to be champions.

    From Dateless, on Sat 26 May 21:28
  10. Conor O'Shea best coach in the premiership

    From Derfel Reynolds, on Sat 26 May 21:15
  11. play off's my ear who won the league

    From windswept, on Sat 26 May 21:06
  12. Ho ho ho!!!!!!

    From Jim, on Sat 26 May 20:15
  13. If Leicester got rid of their two boneheaded Samoan­ brothers they might actually win something ...

    From PF, on Sat 26 May 19:29
  14. Well played my Quins,and well done Leicester. Still do­ not agree with the play-offs.

    From IAN, on Sat 26 May 17:20
  15. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    What a great game of rugby, well done Quins. Robshaw is­ fast becomming 1 of the worlds best back-rowers, there­ is a certain fella called Pocock who is quaking in his­ boots!!!

    From Pink Pig, on Sat 26 May 17:14
  16. Oh dear Robert....a little hungover?????

    From Eddie, on Sat 26 May 17:07
  17. Too early in the morning Robert??? Cant wait for this­ game, should be a cracker, 2 very good teams at full­ strength, could be the best final for a long time.

    From Pink Pig, on Sat 26 May 9:59
  18. i think bath will win as most of the tigers players are­ at a wedding

    From ROBERT, on Sat 26 May 9:46
  19. Tigers On our way to our second home

    From Robin, on Sat 26 May 7:08
  20. George to slay the dragon !

    From CARLA, on Fri 25 May 20:49
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