Premiership: Leicester Tigers 22-16 Harlequins

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport at Welford Road
Blaine Scully try for Leicester v Harlequins
Blaine Scully went over for Leicester's only try
Leicester (16) 22
Try: Scully Pens: Williams (5) Con: Williams
Harlequins (6) 16
Try: Dickson Pens: Evans (3) Con: Evans

Leicester Tigers ended a three-game losing streak, and eased the pressure on director of rugby Richard Cockerill, with a gritty win over Harlequins.

Cockerill faced increasing scrutiny after his injury-hit side slipped to 10th in the Premiership table.

But Blaine Scully's early try at a windy Welford Road settled home nerves.

And although some solid kicking by fly-half Nick Evans kept Quins in touch and a late Karl Dickson try ensured a nervy finale, Tigers deservedly held on.

The margin of the victory could easily have been greater as Leicester avoided losing four consecutive Premiership games for the first time since October 2003.

Quins never looked like breaking through until the closing stages of a game in which defences were on top, by which time they trailed by 13 points - largely thanks to the boot of Owen Williams.

But it was also some wayward kicking by the Welshman that meant the sixth-placed visitors were not out of sight by the time Dickson went over.

Karl Dickson
Karl Dickson scampered over for Harlequins' try late in the game

However the manner of an ultimately tense win - following defeats by Bath, London Irish and Gloucester - was of little importance, especially given the tricky conditions.

Quins had also faced criticism after a poor start to the season, and both Cockerill and counterpart Conor O'Shea had been defiant in the build-up.

Leicester scored inside four minutes after a lively start full of the spirit and character Cockerill and a noisy and expectant home crowd demanded.

Mathew Tait and the fit-again Manu Tuilagi helped work the ball out wide and Jamie Gibson's powerful run and well-timed pass - which Quins felt went forward - allowed Scully to go over for a converted try.

Williams then slotted over two penalties - after successful efforts from Quins fly-half Nick Evans had twice reduced the gap to four points.

But although the visitors were never out of sight, Tigers were by far the more threatening, winning the forward battle and providing good ball for their backs.

Conor O'Shea
Conor O'Shea's Harlequins remain sixth, one place ahead of Leicester

Only a brilliant tackle by Matt Hopper prevented the home side's top try-scorer Vereniki Goneva going over in the corner after England full-back Mike Brown made a mess of a high kick.

Williams then missed a couple of opportunities before knocking over a simple kick to give hosts a 16-6 interval lead.

Evans and Williams traded kicks again in the early stages of the second period, but chances remained at a premium as the rain began to teem down.

Tigers remained on top, but Williams mistimed a pass when a try seemed likely out wide and also missed two kicks to wrap up the points.

Scrum-half Dickson, a late stand-in for Danny Care whose partner gave birth on Friday morning, then scampered under the posts to put the Londoners within one converted try but, although Williams missed another penalty, Tigers secured the points.

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill: "I'm relieved. I'm happy for the players and the club because we have had some stick in the last few weeks.

"When people say we have lost the hunger and there's no pride in the shirt, that's just rubbish. People who know this place should have a bit of respect.

"They can shout at me and think I'm poor but don't attack the quality of this club and what it's about."

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea: "We got stuck in the middle of the pitch and we did not deal with their kicking game.

"The only time we held on to the ball was when we scored. We did not play in the right areas of the pitch.

"That's the disappointing thing in conditions like that."

Leicester: Tait; Scully, M Tuilagi, O Williams, Goneva; Burns, B Youngs; Rizzo, Ghiraldini, Balmain, Thorn, Kitchener, Gibson, Salvi, Crane.

Replacements: Ayerza for Rizzo (47), Mele for B. Youngs (72).

Not used: Briggs, Pasquali, De Chaves, Barbieri, Harrison, Benjamin.

Harlequins: Brown; Yarde, Hooper, Casson, Tikoirotuma; Evans, Dickson; Marler, Gray, Collier, Matthews, Robson, Wallace, Robshaw, Easter.

Replacements: Sinckler for Collier (67), Lowe for Casson (41).

Not Used: Ward, Marfo, Twomey, Trayfoot, Stuart, Lindsay-Hague.

Attendance: 21,150

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (RFU).

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