Conor O'Shea bemoans Harlequins' lack of consistency
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O' Shea was not surprised by the spirited performance of a weakened London Irish as his side were pushed all the way before securing a home semi-final against Grenoble in the Challenge Cup.
Lethargic Quins had trailed 30-18 midway through the second half before the depleted Exiles ran out out of steam to lose 38-30.
Skipper Danny Care was Quins' star performer with a hat-trick of tries and Luke Wallace crossed for the other two tries. Ben Botica converted two and kicked three penalties.
In response, Fergus Mulchrone, Sean Maitland and Brendan McKibbin scored tries for Irish, with Shane Geraghty converting all three and adding three penalties.
O'Shea said; "Games aren't won on paper. Every single team in the Premiership are full of proud players and no-one is going to roll over.
"We were inconsistent throughout the game with our energy levels going up and down far too much. We played from too deep in our territory in the first half and were guilty of overplaying."
"However we will take the win as we came from being 30-18 down to score 20 unanswered points when decisions were going again us. Tom Guest should have been yellow carded for holding back Tim Visser and there were other fifty-fifty calls which didn't go our way."
Irish will take considerable heart from one of their best displays of the season, a fact which their head coach Tom Coventry recognised.
He said: "It was a big night for us and a quarter-final appearance deserved a big performance. We did a marvellous job and we nearly achieved the win we wanted.
"They brought on some big players in that final quarter and the loss of David Paice to the sin-bin was a big momentum swing in their favour.
"We are reasonably happy and we'll take it forward into our big game next week."
That game is the relegation shoot-out with fellow strugglers Newcastle at Kingston Park next Sunday with Coventry's assistant, Clark Laidlaw, emphasizing the importance of that game.
"It's a massive one as we try to stay in the league. Even if we were to win at Newcastle, relegation probably won't be decided until the final day of the season," he said.
"In the last six weeks, we have been satisfied with large parts of our game but results are frustrating as we lack that bit of confidence, which goes with winning."
"We hope to have a few more players back from injury to be considered for next week. They include Alex Lewington and Ben Franks, who have both trained recently."