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O'Shea: Giving Northampton chance to win game was unbelievable and unforgivable

Published 06/02/2016

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea was left scratching his head after losing to Northampton
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea was left scratching his head after losing to Northampton

Harlequins' director of rugby Conor O'Shea admitted his side's 27-23 defeat to Northampton will take some time to get over after a late Ben Foden try won it for the visitors.

With time up Harlequins looked set to consolidate their top-four spot in the Premiership table even further as Ben Botica's 72nd-minute penalty saw the hosts leading 23-20.

But the replacement fly-half then went from hero to villain as with time up he failed to find touch, with visitors Saints then finding the ball into the hands of Foden who faked a pass before dotting over to secure Northampton's first league win since New Year's Day.

And O'Shea was struggling to sum up his emotions at the final whistle.

"I cannot describe or put into words how I feel right now, I've never seen anything like it on a rugby field," he said.

"Should we have been done and dusted and over the hill? Yes, because of how we played in the match as a whole, but we allowed ourselves to get pinned in in the last five minutes and then to have done the hard work and stop the maul and give it away.

"There are so many things I could go back over but we talk about what we can control, well that was nothing short of unbelievable and unforgivable.

"You just had to walk over the dead ball line, kick it over, we had the ball in our hands, it's just a shame, it takes away so much of the brilliant rugby we played out there.

"Credit to Northampton for staying in the game, they should have been long gone, I don't think anyone who hasn't been here and witnessed that will believe what happened. We are just going to have to over the next 48 hours try and park it but it's going to take time."

Saints took the lead three times in an end-to-end first half, centre Luther Burrell reminding England head coach Eddie Jones of his talents by setting up a try for Harry Mallinder before crossing himself.

Harlequins also had two tries in the first half through George Merrick and Ross Chisholm, with Nick Evans and Stephen Myler adding the rest with their respective boots.

Evans added two more penalties to one from visiting JJ Hanrahan after the break, before Botica took centre stage - with Saints head coach Jim Mallinder delighted with his side's never-say-die attitude.

"What's the expression? It's never over until the final whistle and I guess that was never more true than today," Mallinder said.

"When we got the penalty and kicked to the corner I thought we had a good chance of scoring from the maul but then you think that's it, especially when they hook the ball and get it to the back you think it's over.

"But somehow the ball didn't go out but great credit to Ben Foden and the rest of the lads out there to react and get that final score."

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