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O'Shea backs Brown to shine

Mike Brown was backed to make his mark on the RBS 6 Nations after his try kept Harlequins' Heineken Cup ambitions alive with a 20-14 victory over Gloucester.

The full-back latched on to Danny Care's chip to touch down in the 73rd minute and a victory in Connacht next Friday should be enough to secure a quarter-final place. Brown was one of four Harlequins players called into the England squad this week and director of rugby Conor O'Shea believes he is putting the pressure on Ben Foden for the full-back jersey.

"It is great for England that you have guys playing at that level," said O'Shea. "Browny is playing absolutely outstanding rugby. He has a knack of scoring those important tries. It has forced Ben Foden to raise his level. He is playing outstanding rugby. Defensively he was outstanding and he probably saved Northampton a couple of times."

O'Shea added: "If you have competition you have people pushing each other. Hopefully Browny gets a look in at some stage during the Six Nations and plays. He deserves to get up to that level."

Gloucester had proved a tough nut to crack up until Brown's try, with the Cherry and Whites cancelling out Matt Hopper's opening try with an effort from James Simpson-Daniel.

Harlequins trailed 14-13 when captain Chris Robshaw three times declined to take the points as Gloucester were penalised at successive five-metre scrums.

On the seventh set piece, Harlequins' opportunity looked to have gone when the ball was kicked out the side of the scrum and Care was penalised for offside when he picked it up to score. But Harlequins conjured up one last opportunity and Brown's try brought them back from the brink of Heineken Cup elimination.

"That is living and learning," O'Shea said. "We have a saying on the board 'live by the sword, die by the sword'. It hasn't cost us and we can learn from winning rather than learn from losing.

"This time last year we would probably have lost that game. We are enjoying learning what it is like every week to play at this level, with a heck of a lot on the line every time you go out there.

"Teams only get used to that playing matches when you have everything to lose. We go into the last round of the Heineken Cup with an opportunity to go through. I know what Connacht are like down there. We will have to be at our best to win. We are in with a chance."


From Belfast Telegraph