Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

O'Shea excited by Paris trip

Conor O'Shea says Harlequins will relish a European quarter-final against Stade Francais in Paris after Ben Botica's late penalty rescued them from the brink of elimination.

Botica struck two minutes from time to give Quins a 22-20 away victory over the Scarlets and clinch a consolation prize of an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final place.

Quins, already out of Heineken Cup last-eight contention, moved into the Amlin knockout phase along with Northampton and Gloucester by prevailing in west Wales and securing one of three Amlin spots for Heineken group runners-up.

"It was harem-scarem out there," Quins rugby director O'Shea said.

"It is a delight to play against a team like the Scarlets, it really is. Both teams tried to play in a way that should be lauded.

"I thought we controlled the last six minutes of the game brilliantly. I am baffled that we didn't get more penalties at different times, but I thought the referee, overall, did a really good job.

"Given the conditions, I thought it was an incredible game.

"I said to the guys that, mentally, to come back from the disappointment of last weekend when we had the opportunity to beat Clermont Auvergne, I don't think you should underestimate how much it took for the group to come down here and finish off.

"To finish as one of the best runners-up in such a tough pool is a real credit to the guys.

"I think there were loads of pools of death in the Heineken Cup this season. We've won two away games, and I am delighted that we are through.

"We are now going to play against Stade Francais away, and the juices will really flow for something like that.

"I think it has made a big difference to the Amlin tournament with (three) Heineken teams coming into it. Stade Francais versus Quins is a pretty good game."

Wales centre Scott Williams looked to have claimed the Pool Four encounter's decisive touchdown, which followed earlier Scarlets tries by scrum-half Gareth Davies and flanker Aaron Shingler, while Rhys Priestland kicked a penalty and conversion.

Quins scored three tries of their own - full-back Mike Brown, wing Ollie Lindsay-Hague and scrum-half Karl Dickson the scorers - and Nick Evans booted two conversions during a game which the visitors led 14-7 and 19-15 before they finally sealed victory.

The Scarlets are now left to concentrate solely on domestic business following three defeats from six Heineken starts this term.

And it means that none of the Welsh regions - Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Newport Gwent Dragons - have secured a place in either the Heineken or Amlin quarter-finals for a second successive season.

"We competed against a really good Quins team," Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby said.

"For large parts, we were better than them, but in the second half they kept coming back at us and we eventually gave away a bit of a soft penalty for them to get ahead.

"I was really pleased with lots of facets of our game, but ultimately we didn't quite manage the game as we would have liked.

"We've competed against every team for large periods, but we had a chance today, and we blew it.

"This European Cup has thrown up a huge amount of good games. It is disappointing that we did not take our opportunity and get into the Amlin quarters."


From Belfast Telegraph