Twelvetrees stars for Tigers
An under-strength Leicester produced an efficient display to see off Harlequins at Welford Road and end a run of four straight defeats.
Last Updated: 19/11/10 10:06pm
An under-strength Leicester produced an efficient display to beat Aviva Premiership rivals Harlequins 18-13 at Welford Road and end a run of four straight defeats.
Shorn of a host of their international stars, the Tigers struggled to get going early on and were fortunate not to find themselves trailing by more than a couple of Nick Evans penalties.
Quins would pay for their profligacy as man-of-the-match Billy Twelvetrees led a Leicester revival, the young fly-half kicking three penlaties in each half to put his side on top.
The visitors did manage to secure a losing bonus point through Tom Williams' late converted try, but the Londoners will be left to rue a stack of missed opportunities as Leicester ground out a typically gritty home victory.
Without the services of no fewer than five props, Leicester were always likely to be up against it at the set-piece and their problems were exposed in the first minute.
Their front-row having disengaged at the scrum, Evans was presented with a penalty chance that he slotted to give the visitors the ideal start.
The Quins fly-half extended the lead with another penalty on 10 minutes after his kick, chase and tackle on the retreating James Grindal had given his side a platform with a line-out.
Quins continued to dominate the play, asking questions of Leicester's defence both up front and through their backs.
The subdued home crowd finally found their voices on 21 minutes after a rampaging run from powerful teenage wing Manu Tuilagi, who crashed through three tacklers before being stopped.
They were given something to cheer when veteran Julian White, making his first Premiership start of the season, got one over opposite number Ceri Jones at the scrum to earn Leicester a penalty that Twelvetrees kicked.
Quins then had a golden chance to make their supremacy pay following a fine break from number eight Tom Guest but, with options either side, his inside pass to Evans was somehow fumbled by the fly-half with a clear run to the line beckoning.
It was to prove costly as Twelvetrees brought his side level with his second penalty after Chris Robshaw was pinged and then edged them ahead at the interval, as he demonstrated his monster kicking range with a penalty from inside his own half that sailed well over the posts.
Further indiscipline from Quins was then to fatally undermine their hopes as they made an awful start to the second period, offering Twelvetrees three further shots at goal inside eight minutes that he gobbled up.
Robshaw was the first to be penalised for using hands in the ruck and just two minutes later Joe Gray was caught offside, allowing Twelvetrees to boom over another hugely impressive strike from inside his own half.
The Quins pack were again at fault soon after as they failed to move away and Twelvetrees, cheered on by the Tigers faithful, needed no second invitation to take aim at goal and open an 18-6 lead.
It could have been even worse for the visitors as James Johnson was pulled up by referee Wayne Barnes on 52 minutes, but Twelvetrees finally blotted his copybook by pulling his seventh attempt across the posts and just wide.
But bad news for the hosts arrived in the form of an injury to substitute Geoff Parling, the lock - who had only just returned from a neck problem - carried off with a serious-looking injury to his knee.
Quins regrouped and looked set for the score to get them back in the game and, having wasted a couple of promising situations, were left frustrated in the 76th minute as Mike Brown saw a try chalked off, correctly, for a forward pass.
They did finally breach the Leicester line with two minutes to go when Evans popped up a neat pass to Williams who scampered over out wide.
But while Evans slotted the conversion to bring them within five, their desperate last-ditch attempts to conjure a second try came to nothing as Leicester closed out the game.