Leicester's misery continues despite World Cup stars' return
SATURDAY WRAP: Handre Pollard and Jasper Wiese’s return to the Premiership has not gone as planned as their club Leicester Tigers suffers a 25-29 defeat to Harlequins.
In a slugfest where the lead changed hands six times, Handre Pollard kicked over two conversions and two penalties, while Freddie Steward scored twice following the World Cup.
However, it was not enough to prevent a fourth loss in five games for the club.
In contrast, Quins are top of the table for 24 hours at least ahead of their meeting with champions Saracens next Saturday after outscoring their hosts by five tries to three.
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There was one late change for Leicester, where openside Tommy Reffell dropped out in favour of Matt Rogerson, with youngster Emeka Ilione stepping up to the bench.
It took just four minutes for Harlequins to open the scoring when, after a succession of carries towards the Leicester line, skipper Alex Dombrandt was able to force his way over it.
Marcus Smith hit an upright with the conversion, meaning the gap was soon down to 5-3 when returning World Cup winner Handre Pollard knocked over a penalty for the Tigers.
Quins then had their second try in the 16th minute when Italy international Lamb was helped over the line by a couple of teammates from a few metres out, Smith this time converting.
Leicester quickly hit back again, though, when some slick handling from Cameron Henderson, Ben Youngs and Mike Brown led to captain Hanro Liebenberg finishing superbly in the corner down the left.
The Tigers then went ahead for the first time with 33 minutes played when a strong attacking scrum led to Youngs feeding Pollard, whose pass gave Steward a walk-in on the right wing.
Pollard added the extras, but Harlequins went into the break 17-15 in front thanks to a spectacular diving finish from right wing Tyrone Green off the final play of the first half.
The lead changed hands again seven minutes after the restart when Brown timed his pass to allow Steward to score his second, despite him hobbling around the right wing moments before, with Pollard converting again.
Back came Quins as they scored their bonus-point try when scrumhalf Will Porter broke through Ollie Chessum’s attempted tackle to go clear under the posts, with Smith’s conversion putting the visitors 24-22 ahead.
After replacement prop James Cronin knocked on close to the line, Pollard was able to nudge the Tigers ahead by one point with a penalty from in front of the posts in the 66th minute.
The pendulum then swung for one final time with 10 minutes remaining when, following a quickly taken penalty, Lamb was able to burrow his way over from close range for his second of a barnstorming afternoon.
In the other fixture, England flyhalf George Ford was the difference as the playmaking maestro inspired Sale Sharks to a 27-13 win over Bristol at Ashton Gate.
Sharks secured their fourth win of the season, coming away with a bonus point after tries from Arron Reed, Sam James, Rob du Preez and Joe Carpenter plus seven points from the boot of Ford.
Bears crossed early in the contest through Josh Cauldfield, with Callum Sheedy adding two penalties and the conversion for seven points but could not muster a late score to earn a consolation losing bonus point against the frugal Sale defence.
Bristol’s scrum, boosted by the return of Kyle Sinckler, got the hosts off to a positive start, pushing Sale backwards on their put-in to allow Sheedy a shot at goal from 50 metres but the Welshman’s effort fell just short.
However, just a couple minutes later Sale flanker Ben Curry was yellow-carded for taking Rich Lane out in the air and the Bears quickly made the most of the one-man advantage.
Lane was heavily involved again, using his dancing feet before backing himself on the outside to bounce out of an attempted tackle from Du Preez before offloading off the turf to Virimi Vakatawa, who calmly sucked in the final defender before feeding Caulfield to canter in. Sheedy converted.
Sale responded with patient play, drawing a penalty advantage with their close-range catch and drive game from a 5m lineout to allow the backline to take a risk.
That brought reward with Tom Roebuck arcing a wide pass into the arms of Reed who had the pace to touch down in the left-hand corner despite the best efforts of Lane to drive him into touch.
Ford missed the touchline conversion but made amends a couple of minutes later as the hero of Marseille for England repeated his World Cup heroics by dropping a goal from the edge of the 22 to hand the visitors the lead, 8-7 at the break.
After points were at a premium in the first half, they came quickly after the break, with Sheedy slotting a penalty only for Sale to strike back with a try off the training ground, with Ford perfectly picking out James with a miss-pass to put the full-back through a gap and under the posts.
Moments later, Sale skipper Du Preez picked off a pass from Benhard Janse van Rensburg and ran it home from 65m out with a finger being laid on him. Ford was unable to add the extras.
But the England star was quickly back to his playmaking best as he slipped an inside pass to Cobus Wiese who galloped through the Bristol line before linking up with Carpenter to finish with a dive and ensure the points for Sale.
The results & scorers:
Leicester Tigers 25-29 Harlequins
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Liebenberg, Steward 2
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 2
Tries: Dombrandt, Lamb 2, Green, Porter
Cons: Smith 2
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Freddie Steward, 13 Dan Kelly, 12 Solomone Kata, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Cameron Henderson, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Archie Vanes, 17 James Cronin, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Matt Rogerson, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Charlie Atkinson, 23 Matt Scott
Harlequins: 15 Nick David, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Oscar Beard, 12 Lennox Anyanwu, 11 Louis Lynagh, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Will Porter, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Dino Lamb, 5 George Hammond, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Will Collier, 2 Sam Riley, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Irne Herbst, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Danny Care, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Andre Esterhuizen
Bristol Bears 13-27 Sale Sharks
For Bristol Bears:
Pens: Sheedy 2
For Sale Sharks
Tries: Reed, S James, R Du Preez, Carpenter
Cons: Ford 2
Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Noah Heward, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Rich Lane, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Fitz Harding (captain), 7 Harry Thacker, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Joe Batley, 4 Josh Caulfield, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Gabriel Oghre, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Sam Grahamslaw, 18 George Kloska, 19 James Dun, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 James Williams, 23 Gabriel Ibitoye
Sale Sharks: 15 Sam James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Rob du Preez (captain), 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Arron Reed, 10 George Ford, 9 Gus Warr, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Si McIntyre, 18 James Harper, 19 Ben Bamber, 20 Rouban Birch, 21 Nye Thomas, 22 Joe Carpenter, 23 Sam Dugdale
Source: Rugbypass & PA