Defence is Quins best form of attack
December 11, 1999

Harlequins boss John Gallagher saluted a superb defensive effort by his team following the shock 11-9 Heineken Cup win over fancied French side Montferrand.

Quins built up an 11-0 interval lead, and then clung on in the face of fierce Montferrand pressure for a priceless success that rekindles their hopes of a quarter-final place.

"Our defence was outstanding, and it was very important that we managed to prevent Montferrand from scoring a try," Gallagher said.

"Montferrand were very strong up-front, but we matched them, and now we have to do it again when we go to them next week.

"Montferrand are a good side, but we've proved that they can be stopped, and this victory today means that we have won five and drawn one of our last seven matches."

But that impressive record though, has been lost on the London public, as just 2,600 people witnessed the Pool 5 encounter.

It will be a different story when Quins go to France next weekend, when Montferrand expect a capacity 15,000 plus crowd to greet them.

Gallagher revealed that Quins were almost forced to request the postponement of today's match because of a front row injury crisis.

"Prop Paul Graham has been recovering from a hamstring problem, and had he pulled up injured this week, then the game would have been off," Gallagher added.

"We are okay now in the front row department for next week's match, and we know that it will be a massive challenge."

Even though Quins fly-half Gareth Rees failed with a first-half conversion and penalty, the home side was still able to call on a world class goal-kicker.

Centre John Schuster took over the responsibility, and landed two crucial penalties just before half-time that ultimately made the difference in a tight contest.

"We have got two world class kickers, and if one is having an off day, then the other will take over,'' Gallagher added.

Montferrand, despite laying siege to the Quins line, could only manage drop goals by fly-half Gerald Merceron and wing Sebastien Viars, with Merceron also slotting a penalty.

"We threw it away really," said Montferrand's Scottish international prop Paul Burnell.

"We expected to win, but Harlequins defended well and we gave away too many penalties."

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