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Leicester recover against Quins to keep play-off hopes alive

Matt Toomua instrumental in Tigers victory.

Leicester maintained their hopes of a 14th consecutive appearance in the end-of-season play-offs with a 33-18 win over Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership at Welford Road.

Australia international Matt Toomua’s first-half accuracy with the boot put the Tigers ahead at the break before he inspired the home side to a second-half comeback.

He scored a try of his own and made another as the hosts got their stuttering season back on track with three second-half tries.

With under three minutes gone, Quins took advantage of a knock-on in the middle of the park and Aaron Morris broke clear before releasing a perfectly-timed pass to Alofa Alofa to go over in the corner.

The Tigers were sparked into life by a break from prop Greg Bateman and they took an early opportunity to cut the lead with Toomua slotting over a penalty having missed an earlier effort.

A second penalty for Toomua after the visitors were adjudged to have strayed offside gave the home side the lead for the first time, though Marcus Smith put Harlequins back in front 8-6 just after the half-hour.

With half-time seconds away, Quins were dealt a double blow as Smith was yellow-carded for offside right on their own line and from the resulting penalty Toomua put the home side 9-8 in front at the break.

The game opened up after the interval as both teams went in search of the win which would keep them within touch of the play-off places and it was the visitors that moved back ahead.

Luke Wallace found space out wide to force his way over the line to give Harlequins a 13-9 lead.

Tigers pushed back once again, piling on the pressure deep in the Quins half and it was Toomua that made the break, spotting a gap in the centre of the park to go over before adding the conversion.

With the Quins rocking, the Tigers hit them with a second try moments later as Toomua was again involved with a cross-kick that bounced nicely for Sione Kalamafoni to race onto.

Second row Graham Kitchener was the beneficiary as he rumbled over from the following phase to put Leicester ahead 23-13.

Harlequins fought back with a catch and drive for the line as Charlie Matthews ensured a tight finish, cutting the deficit to five points with Smith missing his third conversion.

Toomua’s penalty with four minutes remaining sealed the win and they added gloss to the score in injury time as Adam Thompstone intercepted to go over unchallenged.

Fly-half Toomua added the conversion with the final kick of the game to move Tigers up to seventh in the league.

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