NO LONGER can Harlequins be dismissed as the joke club of the Premiership.
It has been a long time coming, but finally fans at the Stoop know they have a team capable of winning on the biggest stage, as their heroes lay claim to the Premiership crown for the first time.
Last year's Amlin Cup thrills proved something special was being created. Now they have the very best evidence that they have a generation ready to lay claim to a stack of silverware.
It was they rather than a Leicester side of eight play-off finals in a row who looked at ease in Saturday's final and they deservedly got the win that their consistency during the regular season demanded.
They knew that finishing top this year for the first time was no guarantee of success in the Twickenham denouement in front of 80,000 fans, but displayed not a semblance of self doubt, to become only the third club to win the final after finishing top.
There was inevitably a late scare. How could it be otherwise? But in the end, Quins saw out an anxious final few minutes backed up onto their 5m line and with just seven points between the teams.
When ref Wayne Barnes signalled a penalty in their favour to effectively end the game, the relief all round was palpable.
Considering they made such a blistering start to the game, Quins would have expected to go in more than a point ahead at the interval.
In fact it needed Nick Evans' third penalty of the afternoon to go over just before the break to ensure there was at least some advantage at 14-13.
There was certainly no question of stage fright for Conor O'Shea's men though, as they conjured up a pulsating and intense early rhythm that appeared to catch the Tigers by surprise.
Evans landed one penalty and smacked another against a post before Tom Williams overlapped into the corner for a try after George Robson had punched a hole in the Leicester defence to create room for Mike Brown to set up the score.
Youngster George Ford got the Tigers' first points on the board after a quarter of an hour, and a second after Evans had once again opened up an eight point gap.
But the Tigers found themselves in front when Quins made a mess of a line-out and Dan Cole picked up before feeding Steve Mafi for an unchallenged sprint to the line from half-way.
If things were starting to look good for the perennial finalists, it took a bad turn just before the break when No8 Thomas Waldrom was sin-binned for a blatant offside and Evans landed three penalties while he was off – two immediately after the interval as Quins scented blood.
By the time skipper and man of the match Chris Robshaw had powered over from close range following several phases of incisive attacks – with the scurrying Danny Care typically prominent – they were probably already putting out the bunting for a party across the road at the Stoop.
Evans converted and added two more penalties to put the Quins in the comfort zone at 30-13 and although Anthony Allen's breakaway try dredged up a little hope for the Midlanders, they had left themselves with just a bit too much to do. Ford did convert and then land a penalty, but the Tigers could not close the seven point gap in the last 10 minutes.
The game as a whole was bristling with attacking intent from the outset, along with a determination by both sides to keep the ball alive at all costs. It was great advert for the game.
It was not the messy, cagey affair that often blights a final and firmly in keeping with the superb regular season contest between the sides last month when 76 points were posted in a classic encounter in south west London.
That day ultimately belonged to the Tigers after Quins had surrendered a big lead. But it was destined to be a very different outcome this time around.
QUINS: Brown, Williams, Lowe, Turner-Hall, Monye, Evans, Care, Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Fa'asavalu, Robshaw, Easter. Replacements: Buchanan, Lambert, Collier, Vallejos, Guest, Dickson, Clegg, Hopper.
LEICESTER: Murphy, Agulla, M Tuigali, Allen, A Tuigali, Ford, B Youngs, Ayerza, Chuter, Cole, Skivington, Parling, Mafi, Salvi, Waldrom. Replacements: T Youngs, Mulipola, Castrogiovanni, Kitchener, Newby, Harrison, Twelvetrees, Hamilton.
Attendance: 81, 799