Quins target Euro double
Mon, 31 Dec 2012 12:55
We're well placed in the league and in the European Cup
Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea revealed that his team has set their sights on a rare double - winning both the Premiership and European Cup.
O'Shea hailed his side's tenacity after the defending Premiership champions dug out a narrow win against London Irish.
New Zealander Nick Evans kicked 16 points, with a Danny Care score and a late penalty try ensuring Quins stay top the pile at the turn of the year.
In contrast, London Irish have now won just once in their last 10 games in all competitions and are anxiously looking over their shoulders despite 15 points from the boot of Ian Humphreys.
"We're well placed in the league and in the European Cup," O'Shea said.
"If we can do a job against Connacht next up in Europe, there's something very exciting out there for us in April."
He admitted conditions were "very difficult" and it was "frustrating" in their win over the Exiles.
"We made far too many handling errors.
"We felt we dominated the whole way through but we just couldn't get clear water to actually drive that home and we gave away some dumb penalties, which allowed Irish to stay in the game.
"They didn't really come to play; they came to kick a lot of ball and live off our mistakes and unfortunately we made far too many.
"We take nothing for granted and that's another win in the Premiership - we played brilliantly last week up at Northampton Saints but you don't reproduce that every week.
"On days like this you need to dig it out and that's exactly what we did to get the win.
"Your peak is in April and May - but to get there you have to win games and you have to continually turn up with intensity.
"After two difficult games, London Welsh have got within seven points in every Premiership game and if we don't turn up at the Kassam Stadium with intensity next week, we will be in trouble.
London Irish boss Brian Smith admitted his side face a dogfight to retain their Premiership status after slumping to another untimely loss.
With Sale winning on Friday night against Worcester, the Exiles now find themselves just a point off the foot of the table but Smith is refusing to press the panic button just yet.
"I think we gave a decent account of ourselves in terms of effort level but we let ourselves down later in the second half and ultimately it cost us," said Smith.
"We have to pay tribute to Quins, the amount of pressure they put on us in our red zone eventually told inside our own 22. They're a good side but I'm still proud of my team's efforts.
"We've got to be a little more precise, we had a couple of line-outs to get back into it and squeeze something out of the game but we turned them over.
"I think we need to be brutally honest and see where we're at - there's no doubt we're in a bit of a dogfight and we need to scrap.
"The penalty try was a brave call; the norm is the decision is usually made on the third scrum but the referee pulled the trigger pretty early.
"We're smarting a bit; the boys in the pack are hurting. Quins are very well drilled with their scrummaging and their driving but I don't think we were overshadowed as much as the penalty count suggested.
"We can't worry ourselves about the table; we just need to worry about the next game. We can't worry ourselves about what's happening at Sale or at London Welsh.
"We can only worry about ourselves and our next game is against Gloucester, we need to take the positives and be brutally honest about the negatives and what let us down.
"We're big boys and we'll dust ourselves down and we need to keep scrapping.
"Guys will go through a variety of emotions at this time, they're really hurting and it's one of those situations where you think how are we going to get a win and you think the whole world is against you.
"Confidence is something we're probably a little short on and that showed at the end of the game, whereas Harlequins looked full of it."
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