Chris Robshaw insisted that there were positives for Harlequins to take despite their Heineken Cup defeat at the hands of last season’s finalists Clermont Auvergne on Sunday.
The Premiership outfit remain rooted to the bottom of Pool Four despite gaining a losing bonus point courtesy of Nick Evans’ drop goal with the final kick of the match in central France, where Clermont had won their previous 64 matches.
Wing Tom Williams scored a 39th-minute try and one point was what Quins fully deserved for a committed and spirited display at the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin.
Robshaw, the Quins captain, said: “We are disappointed not to have come away with more. You look at the record that they have here and credit to them. We gave them three early tries but stayed in it and leave with a point because of a cracking drop goal by Nick [Evans] to finish. In the Premiership we have started pretty slowly. Hopefully, this game has really turned our season around. I’m incredibly proud of all the guys out there.”
The much-improved performance came just eight days after the below-par display at home against the Scarlets. Robshaw was delighted with the response of his team-mates, after director of rugby Conor O’Shea had revealed his anger at the players. Robshaw added: “We had a telling off in the week, but we trained hard and well and came here with a point to prove.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the result, but to leave with a point was good and we had some great performances out there. Players stuck their hand up and a lot of the young guys who came on off the bench made an impact, especially in an arena like that. It’s not easy.”
Quins trailed 20-13 at the interval after Williams scored in the left-hand corner following some purposeful work by Robshaw, Will Collier, Danny Care and Mike Brown. But, despite a fifth loss in seven games this season, the England flanker Robshaw claims the spirit is still high in the Londoners’ camp.
Robshaw said: “We thought we were very much in the game at half-time. We spoke about the quality in their side and if they scored three, we had to score four. That was our mentality all week.
“Our defence wasn’t on it, but as you saw, as soon as we kept hold of the ball, we converted it just before the end of the half. That gave us the belief.
“The belief in this squad, whether it’s on the back of the run we’ve just had or when we’ve won quite a few games, is always quite high.”
Scorers: Clermont Auvergne:Tries Byrne, Fofana, Lacrampe; Conversions James; Penalties James 2. Harlequins: Tries Williams Conversions Evans; Penalties Botica, Evans; Drop goal Evans.
Clermont Auvergne: Byrne (Nalaga, 67); Rougerie, King, Fofana, Sivivatu; James (Delany, 55), Lacrampe (Radosavljevic, 48); Debaty (Chaume, 53), Kayser (Paulo, 53), Kotze (Ric, 63), Pierre (Jacquet, 66), Hines, Bonnaire, Lapandry (Vosloo, 50), Chouly.
Harlequins: Brown; Sackey (Walker, 55), Hopper, Botica (Smith, 55), Williams; Evans, Care; Marler (Lambert, 77), Buchanan (Ward, 18), Collier (Sinckler, 45), Easter, Robson, Wallace, Robshaw, Guest (Trayfoot, 53).
Referee: G Clancy (RU).