Quins' power play

Bourgoin 18 Harlequins 30
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It Was never really in doubt. Quins travelled to Southern France with too much firepower and an awful lot of discipline to chalk up their fourth straight win in what, then, is perhaps the most serious of the season's championships, the Heineken European Cup. Bourgoin fought hard, fair and with dignity. They also fought in vain.

The festive mood of what is a long weekend for many in the area was in contrast to the deep-rooted unease about what is happening to a team that has been at the heart of its 29,000 strong community from 35 kilometres south-east of Lyon.

They know that captain Marc Cecillon is, at 38, if not on his last legs then certainly in his last season. There is a new group of policy-makers in the club struggling to think in Europe-wide terms about how to bring in the talent to keep them at the top.

After a run of four seasons unbeaten at home they have already lost to Castres this season and there was no Coq Sportif confidence that in their impressive 12,000-seater stadium they would reserve the 45-7 drubbing they had suffered when they visited the Stoop two weeks ago.

So it was predictable they would go off at the speed of an express train, urged on by brass bands, hooters and whistles, and their reward was a fourth-minute penalty kicked by Kiwi full-back Nigel Geany.

It took Quins two minutes to respond and the architect of their first telling touch was the man who had tormented Bourgoin so much a fortnight ago, and a Frenchman at that. Thierry Lacroix fired a long pass to fullback Jamie Williams steaming into the line to fire Daren O'Leary the first of two sparkling, try-scoring passes. Lacroix converted and Williams was on hand again to give yet another Frenchman, Laurent Cabannes, Quins' second well-worked try. With a former Bourgoin player Laurent Belligoi also showing pace on the Quins' left wing two more penalties from Geany were only just enough to keep the local fans happy and his side in touch.

From the start of the second half Bourgoin went straight back into the attack putting Quins under enormous pressure on their own line and giving Geany two more successful kicks and put the home side in the lead.

But Quins always had the extra gear, the extra cover, and were always able to contain a Bourgoin side prone to error. For them, the European dream is just about over. Even if they beat Munster at home the last trip to Cardiff will be no picnic.

Bourgoin: N Geany (V Sounier, 78); L Leflamand, Y Bohu, S Glas, D Janin; G Cassagne, N Guilmot; P Vessiller (O Milloud, 36), J Martin-Colet, P Peyron, S Fischer, M Cecillon (capt), M Malafosse, P Raschi, J Frier (A Chazalet, 54).

Harlequins: J Williams (R Liley, 79); D O'Leary, J Keyter, J Ngauamo, L Belligoi; T Lacroix, H Harries; M Cuttitta, K Wood (capt), J Leonard, G Llewellyn, L Gross (D Allison, 54), R Jenkins, W Davison, L Cabannes.

Referee: D Bevan (Wales).