O'Shea keeping his feet on the ground
September 25, 2010
Harlequins' Joe Marler attempts to break through the Exeter defence during Saturday's game at the Stoop © Getty Images
Harlequins kickstarted their Aviva Premiership campaign with an impressive 40-13 rout of Exeter Chiefs at the Stoop on Saturday but director of rugby Conor O'Shea warned that his side still has much to improve upon.
After a draw and two defeats from their opening three fixtures, Quins were in dire need of a victory - and they got one, thanks to a penalty try and touchdowns from Nick Easter, Gonzalo Camacho and Tom Guest, as well as a 20-point haul from fly-half Nick Evans.
O'Shea said: "We've been very frustrated with our start to the season. We needed the win desperately because supporters forget how we played in those games without winning. But it was not a perfect performance; just a badly-needed victory."
O'Shea was quick to acknowledge that referee Sean Davey played a prominent role in the game given that the official sent Haydn Thomas and James Hanks to the sin bin during the third quarter.
"We studied Davey beforehand and he gave four penalties against us in the first half, two were right in my opinion, two were not," the Irishman said. "They are a good Exeter team and there is no question that having two men binned makes a big difference and that cost them.
"But we wanted to see where we were after five games and once we've played a hugely motivated Newcastle next week we'll have a much clearer picture."
Although not entirely happy with his side's performance, O'Shea was delighted with the impact made by loose-head prop Joe Marler, who was making his first Aviva Premiership start.
"He spent some time with Jason Leonard who worked with him, and will work with him one-on-one regularly," he said of the youngster. "We should use the former greats more, and although I thought he might take him down the pub at first, it was great for the lad to have that level of advice!"
Meanwhile, Exeter boss Rob Baxter had no complaints after the game, admitting that his side had played without the passion that had been so conspicuous in their opening three fixtures of the season.
"A few things contributed to the scoreboard," he said. "We didn't turn up in the frame of mind of desperation we've had in previous games, and we did not show ourselves at our best.
"A couple of early injuries and then some poor penalties meant that the referee decided which team he was going to penalise, and we did not make our own lives easy. It was our poorest game of the four since coming up. We had things level despite hardly getting off the bus during the first 10 minutes, but we did not take the opportunities came our way.
"Scores likes this can happen between established Premiership clubs if one side gets things right on the day. But it will be on our minds for a while. Some of the penalties were fair, some tough, some I'm not sure about until I watch the video.
"This for us was a poor one, but we are still two out of four and we are learning about what you need to succeed at this level. We are learning lessons and this was a tough one. We have no right to go out there and not feel under pressure enough to give our very best."