Harlequins 25-17 Connacht, Heineken Cup, November 11, 2011
O'Shea hails battling Quins
November 11, 2011
Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall rides the tackles against Connacht © Getty Images
Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea heaped praise on his side after they dug deep to stretch this season's unbeaten run to 11 matches with a nailbiting 25-17 win over Heineken Cup debutants Connacht at The Stoop.
The Irishmen scored two tries through Tiernan O'Halloran and former Quins full-back Gavin Duffy but 20 points from the boot of Nick Evans and Karl Dickson's touchdown saw the hosts claim victory.
"This Connacht team will give nothing to anyone in the Heineken Cup," said O'Shea. "They came at us absolutely full metal jacket but we knew what was coming. Nobody in our dressing room is arrogant enough to believe you get things for free. But we had the fortitude to come through and found a way to win. Connacht played really good rugby in the second half but, mentally, our guys are very strong."
O'Shea reserved special praise for Evans who delivered another reminder of his worth to his high-flying side. "His game management was outstanding," added O'Shea. "Defensively he's got better and his kicking percentages have gone up."
The only downside for Harlequins were serious-looking injuries to centre George Lowe and lock Ollie Kohn. "Lowe hurt his ankle and Kohn had a nasty bicep injury. They could both be out for a while," said O'Shea, who had words of consolation for Connacht. "They will go away disappointed to get nothing out of the the game but they should be proud of what they've done tonight."
Connacht head coach Eric Elwood, who saw two late penalties from Evans deny his side a losing bonus point - the least they deserved - said: "It's a hard pill to swallow. The most frustrating and disappointing thing is that for all the effort, endeavour, commitment and hard work we have actually come away from The Stoop with nothing. The game was in the balance at 19-17 when we had a crucial scrum and you think you have a chance so we've a disappointed changing room."
Elwood revealed that Connacht's former Harlequins fullback Duffy was in tears after his old side survived intense second-half pressure to hang on for victory. "Obviously there's the connection with Harlequins and he's hurting pretty badly," said Elwood.
Connacht will play their first home Heineken Cup tie when they entertain French giants Toulouse next Saturday night and their coach is already looking ahead. He said: "The challenge now is can we back this up?"
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