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John Kingston: Defeat spells end of top-four bid for Harlequins

Harlequins boss John Kingston conceded his side's Aviva Premiership play-offs hopes are now over after losing their "cup final" against Leicester at the Stoop.

However, he also insisted he knows "what needs to be done" at Quins and vowed not to stop until he achieves his aims.

Quins had led 13-3 at the interval but Leicester roared back to claim a deserved 27-18 victory and end the home side's 100 per cent winning record at home this season.

The result left Quins 10 points behind fifth-placed Leicester and Bath in fourth, and Kingston accepted his side must now resign themselves to fighting for a top-six finish.

"This was the cup final for us and by losing it, we know that we are not going to finish in the top four and the best we can do is to finish in the top six," said the Quins director of rugby, who is already planning for the future.

"We are an act in progress and I'm really clear as to where we are and what needs to be done, and I won't be stopping until I make the necessary adjustments."

Alofa Alofa's try and eight points from the boots of Nick Evans and Ruaridh Jackson had seemingly put Quins in charge at the break.

However, a yellow card for home full-back Aaron Morris and a stunning second-half showing from the Tigers - who scored 24 unanswered points - ensured that Quins were beaten at home for the first time in the Premiership this campaign.

Sam Harrison and Freddie Burns scored Tigers' tries. There was also a penalty try award with Burns converting two and kicking two penalties. Owen Williams added a conversion before David Ward scored a late consolation try for Quins.

Kingston said: "We made too many mistakes and didn't deserve to win, although I thought we deserved to get something out of it.

"We looked in control but we started the second half slowly and there were two major incidents that turned the game.

"There was the yellow card for Aaron Morris when their player was spectacularly taken out in the air. I knew a card was coming, whether it be yellow or red but there was no malice in it.

"The penalty try was then awarded and while we are trying to minimise the damage, we throw an intercept and it's game over."

The first-half loss of Evans to injury was another blow for Quins, with the outside half only having recently returned after a seven-week absence.

Kingston said: "Nick is a wonderful player and he's been a massive miss for us this season. He has a shoulder problem, he managed to play on with it but it's too early to assess how bad it is."

Leicester's head coach Aaron Mauger was understandably delighted with the victory, although he was also left with a hint of disappointment at his side not getting a fourth try that would have earned a bonus point.

"We tweaked a couple of things in the week and prepared well so it was great to win on the road," he said.

"I'm a little disappointed that we didn't take the full five as we fell asleep in the second quarter after not taking enough care in finishing off our line-breaks.

"We made a couple of adjustments at half-time and I believe we've made a lot of progress in the last few weeks."


From Belfast Telegraph