Heineken Cup: Nick Easter exasperated as Harlequins surrender grip on last eight

 

The European powers-that-be prematurely pronounced Harlequins as being out of the Heineken Cup on Saturday evening, after the multi-coloured ones’ 16-13 home loss to Clermont Auvergne.

Perhaps all the politicking about the future of the event has muddled a few minds. True, Quins are a very long-odds bet to maintain an interest beyond this week’s final round of pool matches – they need a bonus-point win away to the Scarlets on Sunday on top of Saracens losing at home to Connacht the day before, just for starters – but we should at least see those matches played out before jumping to conclusions.

The exasperation for Harlequins’ No 8 Nick Easter was that qualification for the quarter-finals would have been a great deal more attainable if his team hadn’t let slip a 13-3 half-time lead against the French league leaders. It leaves Quins with a more realistic goal in Llanelli of securing one of the three places for clubs to drop into the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup.

Easter played in the Quins side that won the Challenge Cup in Cardiff in 2011 and they would like a repeat, having also won in 2001 and 2004.

“We’ve been steadily improving, but we’re not firing on all cylinders and we’ve got to continue getting better,” said Easter.

 

Danny Care, the Harlequins scrum-half, will have an injury to his left ankle assessed today but he is unlikely to feature in Llanelli, after which he is due to join the England squad preparing to meet France on 1 February. Easter is not in the England squad, and instead will have a week’s warm-weather conditioning in Abu Dhabi next month.

Care’s foot buckled while he was chasing a loose ball with team-mate Ugo Monye and Clermont’s Aurélien Rougerie. “He was a bit ginger when he came off,” said Easter, whose team were leading 13-8 at the time, having just conceded a 46th-minute try to the predatory Napolioni Nalaga after a wicked bounce left Quins’ England full-back Mike Brown flat-footed.

In the first half, Care brilliantly flipped the ball one-handed behind his back when it looked impossible to prevent it going out to make a try for Matt Hopper. “Magic hands,” said Easter.

Sitiveni Sivivatu’s try on 70 minutes levelled the scores after a penalty miss by Nick Evans when Quins were in reach of the win coupled with denying Clermont a bonus point that would have given the home team a great chance of progressing. Brock James’s second penalty for Clermont concluded the scoring.

Clermont host Racing Métro on Sunday with a home quarter-final to shoot for.

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project