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Conor O'Shea furious after Harlequins denied late penalty try at Leicester

Published 25/10/2015

Conor O'Shea felt Harlequins were denied a clear penalty try towards the end of their game at Leicester
Conor O'Shea felt Harlequins were denied a clear penalty try towards the end of their game at Leicester

Furious Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea criticised the referee for not awarding his side a penalty try at the end of their 22-19 Aviva Premiership defeat at Leicester Tigers.

Harlequins launched a last-ditch bid to win the match with two driving mauls, the first of which resulted in a 78th-minute yellow card from referee Thomas Foley for Leicester scrum-half Sam Harrison after it was pulled down.

Director of rugby O'Shea felt Harlequins should have had a penalty try, saying: "We should have had a penalty try. Ridiculous, ridiculous."

"You can't say anything. I'm sure World Rugby will issue an apology saying it was a mistake, but what difference does that make?" he said referring to the referee error which cost Scotland a potential World Cup quarter-final win against Australia.

"You come to Welford Road and you know you have to be 10 points better than them.

"We drove 30 yards and it's taken down. How they can't spot that... Credit to the Tigers but I'm furious."

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill defended the referee, who was appearing in just his eighth game.

"You have got a young referee coming to Welford Road and he refereed pretty well," he said.

"You could say that (penalty try) at the other end before we lost the line-out on the goal line. I thought (Charlie) Mathews came right round. You could have said the same there, these are the fine margins. I thought he refereed pretty well."

Harlequins turned down the chance of getting a draw from a penalty at the death in favour of going for the win but failed to capitalise from the line-out.

O'Shea said he had no regrets despite the decision resulting in a defeat in their second game of the season.

"We kicked to the corner and backed ourselves like we did in the first half," he said.

"They started the better side but we grew into the game and were control of every area except the scoreboard."

Harlequins led 19-15 with eight minutes left thanks to a try from Jack Clifford and a conversion and four penalties from Nick Evans.

But Leicester, who had lost only one of their previous 18 league games at home, got out of jail thanks to a 72nd-minute try from replacement Laurence Pearce from a driving line-out set up by a great kick to the corner by Owen Williams. He also kicked the conversion, while Tommy Bell landed five penalties.

Cockerill admitted Leicester needed to improve but was happy with a second successive win.

He said: "The result was great, the performance indifferent, but we are a new side trying different things. These points will be huge in the season but we have got a lot of improving to do."

Leicester scrum-half Ben White, a 17-year-old Leicester Grammar School pupil, got on at the end to become the second youngest player to appear in the Aviva Premiership after former Leeds player David Doherty.

Cockerill said negotiations with former South Africa centre Jean de Villiers, 34, were still ongoing.

"There's a contract on the table. We are waiting to hear," he said.

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