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O'Shea: We'll learn from cup exit

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea says his side will use the hurt of their agonising European Champions Cup exit to spur them on for the rest of the season.

Quins were knocked out of Europe by the narrowest of margins on Saturday despite thrashing Castres 47-19 in France.

That seven-try mauling gave Harlequins a bonus point, but it was not to be enough as they missed out on second spot in Pool Two to Wasps, who staged a superb comeback to draw 20-20 with group winners Leinster.

Both Wasps and Quins ended with 18 points, but it was the former who finished in the top two due to their marginally superior head-to-head record against their Aviva Premiership rivals, having claimed more match-day points in the games between the two.

O'Shea was full of praise for his side's performance against Castres, but was well aware their 23-3 home defeat to Wasps last time out cost them dear as they crashed out of Europe "by inches".

He said: "We could only control what we could control today. You can't rely on others and that's the position we left ourselves in. I thought we played some pretty good rugby in difficult conditions.

"We lacked accuracy last week, despite all the chances we had. Not getting anything out of that game cost us, but Europe is all about learning and our young players have learned an unbelievable amount this season.

"We've gone out by inches, but that's the European Cup for you. We'll learn from it, but we'll also use the hurt to drive us on for the remainder of the season."

O'Shea admitted that, once the bonus point was in the bag at Stade Pierre Antoine, he had half an eye on the game at the Ricoh Arena, where Wasps fought their way back from 20-6 down to earn the draw against Leinster that sent Quins crashing out.

He said: "I'm very disappointed, but we fought tooth and nail to get to this stage, we've fought our way back into the Premiership, and I think anyone who has watched us over the last eight games has seen a team that is much more like itself.

"We have to give the month of February one heck of a rattle and see what we can get for the rest of the season, but we'll learn and this sort of thing will drive us.

"We did what we needed to do today. We didn't control anything else and, unfortunately, now I won't really have any interest in watching anything."

Man-of-the-match Nick Evans admitted it was a bittersweet result for Harlequins, saying: "We gave ourselves a chance. What let us down was last week. That's why it was important that we gave ourselves the best possible chance this week. Which we did.

"It wasn't good enough. We knew that coming into the game we had to rely on other results and that was probably the frustrating thing."

He added: "We could have moped after last week, because we knew the hill that we had to climb this week, but we didn't. The boys stuck to their guns.

"I know it wasn't Castres' strongest team, but it was a pretty good one - and to score seven tries is good momentum for us."


From Belfast Telegraph