Saturday, 26 May 2012

What a final!

Tigers and Quins lined up on the hallowed turf of Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership final after two different passageways to meet up at HQ. Quins have been riding high at the top all season whereas Tigers have fought back from second bottom to hit second top.

With both teams coming through the playoff semi-finals it seemed justified for the top two teams squaring up top fight out the title. Both teams have shown some top class rugby and we're deserved finalists and set the scene for a high class showdown to end the season.

From the moment the whistle blew Quins showed their tactics for this heavyweight bout, they were going to go hard and fast and take the game to Tigers. It took just two minutes for Quins to get on the board with Tigers infringing under the pressure and Nick Evans to happily slot the penalty capitalising on their pressure. Five minutes later Tigers still under the kosh allow Evans another stab at goal, but manages to ping it of the post and misses. The let off for Tigers was short lived as two minutes later Quins fast phase pack action released Williams to breach the try line giving Quins an 8-0 lead in less than 10 minutes. Evans didn't manage to convert the extra two points but Quins looked fully in command.

One of the first occasions of Tigers gaining territory ended with young George Ford putting the first three points up for the Tigers. After the lively looking Danny Care kicked down field deep back into Tiger land an error saw Evans make up for the two missed kicks by slipping over another three. Tigers drew breath and once again went in the offensive breaking into the Quins half, this time Quins infringed and then gave ref Barnes chatback and marched back a further 10m giving Ford an easy 12m kick.

A line out to Quins just inside the Tigers half saw the ball turned over and a spritely Dan Cole charged through flipping off an offload to Mafi who showed a huge turn of pace and sprinted from the halfway line, the Tongan crossed the line allowing Ford to add the further two and game on.

With Tigers in the lead for the fist time of the game they hoped to take the advantage into halftime wasn't to be as Waldrom was pinged for deliberately killing the ball and gaining a sin bin for his efforts dropping Tigers down to 14 for 10 minutes. With a 40m kick lined up it seemed Evans had now found his boots and helped himself to q further three points giving Quins a one point margin lead at the interval.

Not long into the second half and tigers infringe again leaving it one more time for Evans to capitalise with another three points to the tally. Quins now had their tales up again and care was looking sharp. Putting all of his off field antics behind him was showing his form was returning, a neat little grubber from Care and more slick offloading saw Brown then Monye denied but Barnes went back to an earlier offside. Once again Evans duly accepts the offer slotting an extra three points and Quins looking to stretch their legs.

Re-enter Waldrom to see a nine point tally scored during his 10 minutes on the naughty step. Back to full force Tigers were starting to put some phases together, but handling errors and a forward pass to Tuilagi were halting their progress. Quins were still maintaining there pass out of the tackle regime eventually saw man of the match Robshaw drop over from two metres out. Shortly after a collapsed scrum saw Evans step up once again and take the score up to 30-13 and leaving Tigers an uphill task for victory.

Tigers looking down the barrel of a 17 point deficit with little less than 15 minutes looked dead and buried, but as always you can never count them out of a game. With the bright thinking Ben Youngs taking a quick tap and go saw him jink into the Quins 22 pop the ball to a waiting Allen who dabbed down beneath the sticks and letting Ford convert for two more. Tigers now starting to play with pressure secured a penalty for Ford to have a stab at. Ford who we must remember is only 19 years old and playing with great conviction and maturity took the three points leaving Leicester a converted try behind.

As the fixture was drawing to a close Quins took the decision to shut up shop and try to run the clock out and secure the win. Not always a wise move when you're playing such a formidable side as Tigers. Quins lost possession allowing Tigers to counter act, two penalties later Tigers had an attacking line out deep in Quins territory and 50seconds on the clock. The epic finale to an epic fixture was written could Tigers get the converted try to take it into extra time? Leicester threw caution to the wind and piled every last ounce into one final flurry, only to concede a penalty infront of the post leaving Quins to kick the ball into row z and be crowned Aviva Premiership champions.

Two sides battled out a hard fought game in a fantastic finale to a good seasons work. Quins now join Leicester and sale to become the third team to finish top of the table and win the final to be crowned the 'true' champions! Congratulations to both teams on the game and especially Quins on the win!

Now onto next season......

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