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Quins a win away from last eight

Harlequins head to Connacht on Friday night knowing they are one victory away from the Heineken Cup quarter-finals - a significant landmark in the turbulent recent history of the club.

The last time Harlequins made the knockout stages of Europe's premier tournament was in 2009, when they lost 6-5 to Leinster in a pulsating quarter-final forever tainted by the 'Bloodgate' scandal.

"This is a big game for the club," said centre Matt Hopper, who joined Harlequins from Cornish Pirates in the summer. "It's very exciting to be part of the squad at the moment."

He added: "The good thing about the way we are playing at the moment is that everyone is very confident with what we are trying to do.

"Even though we weren't winning going in to the last 10 minutes against Gloucester last weekend it just didn't enter the boys' minds.

"You get a good sense on the pitch of when you are going to win, when you know you are going to win. More often than not it has gone our way this season."

Gloucester may be out of Europe, but director of rugby Bryan Redpath warned Toulouse will get no easy ride into the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

"To bring Toulouse back to Kingsholm on a Friday night is probably one of the biggest games you'll get in club rugby for a Gloucester player," Redpath said. "It's a great opportunity for our players to go toe-to-toe with one of the very top teams in Europe. It's a reputation game and a chance to shine."

The big game on Saturday sees Ulster, who thumped Leicester 41-7 last weekend, travel to Clermont Auvergne in a straight shoot-out for top spot in pool four.


From Belfast Telegraph