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First-half display angers O'Shea

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea has revealed head coach John Kingston delivered a tough half-time team talk to his young side after they trailed Newport Gwent Dragons 21-8 at the break.

Quins emerged a transformed team in the second half and scored 23 unanswered points to blow away the visitors and seal a 31-21 victory.

"John spoke very forthrightly at half-time," said O'Shea. "I was pretty beside myself because we were terrible in the first half.

"I though Matt Hopper spoke really well to the backs at half-time as well. He's got a bit of (former Manchester United manager) Alex Ferguson in him."

O'Shea was pleased with the character shown by his young squad particularly his forward pack, who fronted up to a Dragons unit containing Welsh international Andrew Coombs and British and Irish Lion Andy Powell.

"We didn't play perfectly in the second half but we played with real physicality and aggression," O'Shea added.

"Seven of the pack are 23 or younger, so it's an incredible learning experience for them.

"But that's what this competition is about. It's about young players understanding the mental mindset you have to carry. They turned it around and they got the win so that's the positive side of things.

"We're so much better than that. We wanted an 80-minute performance like we played in the second half.

"The penalty count was horrific. They conceded 24 penalties, we only conceded eight. It's very difficult to have a game when that's going on but we'll take the win."

Meanwhile, Newport director of rugby Lyn Jones was at pains to explain his side's second-half malaise.

The visitors found themselves on the wrong side of referee Greg McDonald in the second half as the Welsh region failed to register another score.

"The scoreboard was shaped by the whistle," Jones said.

"Our scrum was dominant, our kicking game was excellent, our strategic play was very good and there was a lot of good approach play in scoring two good tries.

"To score 21 points was very pleasing in one half but the territory dried up because of one technicality after another."


From Belfast Telegraph