Out of nowhere, this game has become an absolute juggernaut of a clash rather than the mid table fodder it has been throughout the last couple of seasons. Both teams are currently bang in form, with a litany of talent that are either at international level, or should be at international level. To be honest, it felt like a boxing match in terms of marketing, a lot was centred around Ford vs Smith, Youngs vs Care and Dombrandt vs Wiese. The battle of players who fans feel SHOULD be in the international picture, and those who are perceived as being on the decline; with the exception of South African Jasper Wiese of course, who might be Dombrandt's most aggressive opponent yet. Who came out trumps?
Ford vs Smith
This game proved the old notion of, 'don't believe the hype'. Why? Well, both Fly Halves actually had excellent games, with Ford getting the upper hand in one on one scenario's, but fans have now taken that little win as a reason to bash the hype against Smith. What is wrong with fans at the moment!? On the bandwagon one day, then one lacklustre performance happens and they are suddenly a part of the angry mob. Ford flourished because he had a cracking platform to work from; Leicester's forwards bullied Quins from pillar to post and constantly gave momentum to the half backs. It gave Ford room to manipulate space in his signature, three-phases ahead fashion. He took the ball effectively to the line, threw some deft outside shoulder balls and created a couple of excellent moves out of thin air; just look at that step on Marcus Smith.... Wow! However, Smith too had some blinding moments, thrown a worldie of a pass to Green to create one of the tries of the match. Although his place kicking radar was a little off, everything Quins did well came through him; if anything, it proved that he didn't need a solid foundation in order to make magic happen, and that's incredibly exciting. To be honest, I can't say who actually won on the day, despite Ford clearly dominating the stats, purely down to this being a contest dominated by this abrasive Leicester pack.
Care vs Youngs
This story is far different, as Care is actually the senior to Youngs, but most fans put Care as an outside favourite to be a Lions bolter this summer. Since that never happened, and Youngs ruled himself out of the competition, most fans now were left feeling that these two are battling it out purely on reputation. So, who won that battle? Youngs did, comfortably. We have been very critical of Youngs on the international stage and especially when he faces world class opposition, but he has been excellent thus far domestically. His box kicking has sharpened up, his service isn't so loopy and he continues to snipe effectively. Again, it really helped having a strong platform ahead of him, but that didn't stop him creating his own opportunities. Care on the other hand really struggled with the reversing nature of his front five. He was put under far more pressure and unfortunately squandered a lot of ball with inconsistent, slightly aimless box kicking and erratic service. Again, I have to reiterate, Care is having a fantastic season, and just because he had one poor game against a player that is meant to be his direct competition, doesn't mean he's had any less of a superb season.
Wiese vs Dombrandt
Now this was probably the most even contest all game. Both players excelled in certain areas and were perhaps a little more quiet in others. Dombrandt has recently become a real lineout threat, taking more than two lineouts per game and because of that he is playing far, far longer than most 8's in the league. He carried bravely but made little impact due to the front-up nature of that Leicester back row. He did show some silky hands with the odd offload and helped support the breakdown well; just a solid, solid performance. Wiese on the other hand carried in his usual, terrifying fashion, smashing big units all over the place. He didn't make too much impact at the breakdown and his work rate can be questioned defensively, but he has the ability to make game-changing decisions/breaks. Both players showed two completely different sides to what it takes to be a world class number 8.
Leicester's Forward Dominance
It's official, Borthwick has finally reverted Leicester to being their snub-nosed, hyper-aggressive, forward dominated selves. Leicester bullied this Quins side and knocked seven bells out of them in both attack and defence. They were just ferocious, even naughty boys like Cole looked far meaner than before; probably the reason why he ended up yellow carded. The biggest example (both in nature and figuratively) is of how Genge continues to grow as this raging bull. Two tries and countless metres made around the fringes, Genge looks like my worst nightmare as an opposite number. He also continues to be incredibly consistent at scrum time too, with Leicester's scrum finally finding some stability from game to game. Lineouts, breakdowns, scrums and more, Leicester have those elements in their pocket.
George Ford - Ford had an absolute masterclass this game and really deserved MOTM. He ripped Quins to shreds with and without ball; his passing is unreal!
Ellis Genge - Took his tries well and looks unstoppable when 5 metres out.
Marcus Smith - Controversial, but I thought Smith had a solid game in difficult circumstances; if Quins pulled off the unbelievable comeback, it would have been purely down to his vision.
Tyrone Green - One of my favourite players in the league at the moment, Green has become a real phenom out side for Quins.
Danny Care - An uncharacteristically poor performance from the ex-England 9, really struggled with the platform given by his pack.
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