Harlequins’ general manager Billy Millard loves his side’s never-say-die attitude but urged the Premiership semi-final hopefuls to start faster after losing 35-29 at Leicester Tigers.

Quins trailed 29-12 at the interval after England star Ellis Genge scored twice to help Leicester secure the try bonus point in the first 40. 

Crucially Steve Borthwick’s Tigers managed to keep their fourth-placed opposition scoreless while they were down to 13 men - with Genge cautioned for an illegal clear-out before fellow prop Dan Cole was also sent to the sin bin for conceding a penalty try by collapsing a maul. 

But the Londoners almost pulled off their third great escape in as many weeks, following last-minute wins over Wasps and London Irish, as Joe Marchant, Nathan Earle and Luke Northmore all crossed after the break to ensure the game went down to the wire with Quins eventually having to settle for two bonus points in defeat. 

Millard said: “God love them, they love leaving it late. It wasn’t to be today; they’ll hang in there all game, but we’ve just got to get that first 40 minutes right to give ourselves a chance. 

“That double yellow card period was big for us. Fair play to them for keeping us out during that period. 

“There was an exit there, where we kind of got stuck and overplayed it. You’ve just got to get the ball and stick to our processes, and we didn’t do that. 

“I thought in the first-half we piggy backed them up the field and let them play their game. I thought they mauled really well.  

“I thought they were much more physical and dominant at the breakdown. When we got that right, we managed to do our thing.” 

Former Saracens winger Earle marked his return from injury with two tries but warned his Quins teammates they must improve if they are to have any chance of being crowned Premiership champions for the first time since 2011/12. 

The 26-year-old said: “It’s nice to get a couple of tries but ultimately the win is what we want, and it wasn’t enough today. 

“We spoke about our mindset in that first-half. I think everyone to a man was not at the races. We weren’t at the level we needed to be to win or put ourselves in a position to win it. 

“We can’t keep doing that as a squad, it was a matter of too little too late. We spoke about our defence in the week and that wasn’t good enough along with our discipline. 

“If we want to win this league, we can’t be like that.”