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Dan McKellar: 'After playing the best two teams in Europe, it was a tough ask'

By PA
Mike Brown on the charge - PA

Leicester director of rugby Dan McKellar said his side are now “well and truly back in the hunt” in the Premiership after battling to a 20-19 win over Harlequins at a sold-out Stoop.

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After heavy European defeats to La Rochelle and Leinster, Tigers badly needed a boost and Friday’s four-point haul keeps them in contention for a play-off spot when the Premiership resumes after the upcoming Six Nations break.

Leicester were outscored 3-2 in terms of tries and were indebted to Quins fly-half Jarrod Evans missing an eminently kickable conversion of Tyrone Green’s late try, but McKellar felt his side deserved that fortune and admitted defeat would have been “shattering and demoralising”.

He said: “After playing the best two teams in Europe, it was a tough ask to come here with just a six-day turnaround.

“The game was massively important and we are well and truly back in the hunt in terms of the Premiership.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Harlequins
19 - 20
Full-time
Leicester
All Stats and Data

“I was disappointed that it came down to the final kick as we should have wrapped up the game long before that as I thought we played really well tonight.

“It would have been shattering and demoralising if we had lost but we deserved a bit of luck as we certainly didn’t get any last week against Leinster.

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“We will take a lot of confidence from that as our kicking game was outstanding and our defensive pressure was impressive.”

Jasper Wiese and Mike Brown scored Leicester’s tries with Handre Pollard kicking two penalties and two conversions.

Nick David, Jack Walker and Green crossed for Harlequins with Evans adding two conversions, but they badly missed the experience of midfield triumvirate Alex Dombrandt, Danny Care and Marcus Smith as they struggled for continuity throughout the game.

Quins assistant coach Danny Wilson was still full of praise for Wales international Evans despite his late miss.

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He said: “He’s been out for a long time with an injury and was thrown in at the deep end.

“He had a bang on his knee early on and as a result had pain in his kicking foot.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
2
3
Tries
2
2
Conversions
2
0
Drop Goals
0
119
Carries
124
5
Line Breaks
5
20
Turnovers Lost
10
5
Turnovers Won
3

“He was finding holes in the opposition defence so we decided to keep him out there and he fronted up by taking on the last kick.

“However we made too many errors tonight as we had a lot of different combinations so we lacked cohesion.

“They had more experience than we did in the crucial areas and won the aerial battle as when they kicked, more often than not they got the ball back.

“We can’t fault the effort and spirit to get back into the game but at this moment, it’s frustrating and stinging.”

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