Toomua was key for Leicester – head coach O’Connor
The Australian scored 23 points, including a fine individual try.
Australian Matt Toomua was the difference as Leicester beat Harlequins 33-18 at Welford Road, according to Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor,
Toomua scored 23 points, including a fine individual try and then set up Graham Kitchener, with Adam Thompstone getting at intercept score at the death.
Alofa Alofa and Luke Wallace went over for Harlequins at the start of both halves with Charlie Matthews also touching down in the 69th minute.
Toomua has played the majority of this season at inside centre with George Ford at fly-half and this his first Tigers appearance starting in the number 10 jersey.
“It’s not that difficult for him to move into the number 10 role, he’s played a lot of his rugby at that position and is a Test quality 10,” said O’Connor.
“For him to play at first receiver when you haven’t done it much, he was probably the difference between the sides today and he gave us a little more thrust and potency.
“He created space for Manu (Tuilagi) and Telusa (Veainu) at the edges and we probably didn’t capitalize on that today. We could have closed out the game had our handling been better.
“We had a couple of jitters at the end but we were better and our confidence at the set-piece today will give us a boost going forward.
“The two most disappointing aspects of the game were the soft scores we gave them at the start of each half which put us under pressure but it gave us intent to play and made them work harder.”
Harlequins had led when Aaron Morris broke clear and fed Alofa to go over in the corner and when Wallace found space out wide after the break, Quins led 13-9.
But two quick-fire tries for Tigers from Toomua and Kitchener killed the game off despite Matthews score.
Toomua’s four penalties proved decisive and director of rugby John Kingston admitted that ill-discipline cost his side the victory.
“I thought for an hour we were comfortable and the better side, we had a penalty count that was against us and it’s very tough to win a match when it’s like that,” he said.
“You always say you have to be 10-15 points better to win at a place like this and I think it is really harsh to not get the win today.
“It’s disappointing as we want to be in the mix and the top six is now definitely our goal and we want to get there like we did last year.
“I’m really proud of the team, I don’t feel sorry for them but it’s harsh on them, that they’ve come away with nothing because for large periods of the game we were the better side.”