Harlequins 32 Leicester Tigers 12
The clamour for Nick Easter to make a return to international rugby seems to be gathering pace by the day and after an all-star showing against the Leicester Tigers few would bet against it.
Harlequins secured a bonus-point win to drag themselves back into the play-off hunt thanks to scores from Danny Care, Jack Clifford, Marland Yarde and Tim Swiel but it was Easter who will hog the headlines.
Following a suspected broken leg to Gloucester’s Ben Morgan on Friday night, the England No.8 cupboard looks bare at present, with O’Shea revealing even at the age of 36 that Easter is keen on a return for Stuart Lancaster’s men.
The veteran forward was involved in everything good about Harlequins on his 250th appearance for the club and even set Care away for the game’s opening score.
O’Shea said: “Nick Easter wants to play for England. On that sort of performance today (he was incredible) as well as the Leinster game when he played against Jamie Heaslip.
“I also thought Danny Care was outstanding, I hope he has proven that when Danny Care plays the way he can that he’s a match winner.
“I felt we have turned the corner. We needed a win like this to really get us buzzing and speaking of buzzing we have Wasps next week in Europe.
“I’m very happy to get that win because we needed it more than them; we needed to get ourselves back in the mix as it’s so tight, it’s going to be a dogfight right to the end for everybody bar probably the top two.”
“I also thought Danny Care was outstanding, I hope he has proven that when Danny Care plays the way he can that he’s a match winner.” – Conor O’Shea
The Tigers had lost just one Aviva Premiership game since the start of the October prior to kick-off and that confidence showed in the opening quarter as they started like an express train and dominated in the loose, with Owen Williams keeping the scoreboard ticking with the boot.
But after the 20 minute mark and Care’s try, the game turned on its head and it became one-way traffic – it was fitting Quins should secure a bonus-point with their fourth try in the last minute after dominating the last hour.
“We didn’t finish our opportunities, we created lots of opportunities, but in the end we got what we deserved,” said Leicester boss Richard Cockerill.
“It’s disappointing we got nothing out of the game and conceded four tries, it doesn’t quite tell the picture of how the game was, but that’s the game.
“If you’re a little bit off in this competition you get punished. I have got no complaints with the referee particularly; I’m really disappointed for ourselves, and the opportunities that we produced that we didn’t take advantage of.
“We created a lot of opportunities and we gave away silly penalties, they played with a good tempo and Nick Easter’s offload for the first try was very, very good.”
Leicester Tigers: Tait, Thompstone (Bai 64), Goneva, Allen, Benjamin, Williams Burns 66) – (Williams 74), Ben Youngs (capt) (Harrison 61), Ayerza, (Rizzo 61), Tom Youngs (Ghiraldini 61), Balmain (Munpola 55), Kitchener (De Chaves 74), Parling, Croft (Gibson 55), Salvi, Crane.
Harlequins: Brown, Yarde, Hopper, Lowe, Monye (Williams 31), Botica (Swiel 69), Care, Marler (capt) (Marfo 74) , Gray (Buchanan 64), Sinckler (Collier 61), Matthews, Robson (Twomey 76), Clifford (Trayfoot 76) , Robshaw, Easter.
Replacements not used: Dickson,
Tries: Care 22, Clifford 38, Yarde 44, Swiel 80,
Conversions: Botica 23, 45, Swiel 80+2,
Penalties: Botica 12, 50
Penalties: Williams 2, 9, 19, 52
Referee: Luke Pearce