Robshaw insists Quins must not waste qualification

Harlequins 47 Connacht 8

twickenham stoop

Harlequins strode into the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup yesterday, leading the way in every respect. So they should, their critics will say, given that they have emerged from comfortably the weakest pool with one pool round remaining, though the scoreline at the Twickenham Stoop belies Connacht's commitment in defence.

The English champions, who travel to Biarritz next Friday to complete Pool Three, have mustered 24 from a possible 25 match points and are averaging 45 points a game. Such an achievement does not suggest a wholly competitive pool, though Conor O'Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby, emphasises the memory of defeat by Connacht last season which helped drive his club towards success in the Premiership.

More to the point, Harlequins are in the knockout stage, almost certainly at home barring a mathematical miracle. They reached the last eight in 1997 and 1998, but their first home quarter-final, in 2009, did not end well: that was the loss to Leinster which produced the Bloodgate scandal that hung over the club like a cloud for a year and more.

That memory has been laid to rest by the positive approach taken by O'Shea and so many of the players he inherited, most notably Chris Robshaw. "It's only my second European quarter-final and not many of the players here have been in that position and progressed," the England captain said. "We don't want to pass that by, we want to be a force in Europe."

If a penalty try gave Harlequins some first-half breathing space, the second half produced another five tries, of which the most popular by a distance was scored by Ugo Monye. It was the wing's 200th appearance for the club and, in a week when he was demoted by England to the Saxons squad, bore the hallmark of class as his strength allowed him to wrench clear of two tacklers and his speed carried him round the remaining defence.

By then, Connacht's plans were in ruins. They pressured the home side's attacking game for much of the first half, forcing Nick Evans into a rare inglorious moment when he was first charged down and then put a clearance straight into touch. But their scrum struggled and the penalty count against them by the break was a massive 8-1.

In the third quarter both Johnny O'Connor and Fetu'u Vainikolo received yellow cards for obstruction within two minutes of each other.

One of the maxims of the amateur era was that, when under the cosh – and reduced to 13 men, which you could say was Connacht's position – you could always start a fight, and there were a series of meaningless running battles, most involving Quins' Joe Marler, who eventually visited the sin-bin too, along with Ethienne Reynecke, the replacement Connacht hooker.

But O'Shea had no concerns with Marler's discipline: "You never let yourself get pushed around and Joe never went over the edge," he said. "I thought he stood up for himself and his friends." Marler's friends were quite happy to stand up for themselves: Tom Williams, so intimately involved in Bloodgate, scored two tries, Mike Brown contributing to both.

O'Connor scored a well-worked try from a line-out for Connacht, who will be coached next season by Pat Lam, the former Samoa No 8 succeeding Eric Elwood in June. Thereafter it was all Harlequins after Monye had run in from 40 metres. George Lowe collected a grub-kick by Evans and Ben Botica rolled his way over.

Harlequins M Brown; T Williams, M Hopper (G Lowe, 54), T Casson (B Botica, 69), U Monye; N Evans, D Care (K Dickson, 66); J Marler (sin-bin 60; M Lambert, 70), J Gray (R Buchanan, 58), J Johnston (W Collier, 69), O Kohn (C Matthews, 77), G Robson, M Fa'asavalu (Lambert, 69-70), N Easter (T Guest, 52), C Robshaw (capt).

Connacht R Henshaw; T O'Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Vainikolo (sin-bin 52-62); M Jarvis (M Nikora, 49), K Marmion (J Loxton, 66); D Buckley (B Wilkinson, 44), J Harris-Wright (E Reynecke, 54, sin-bin 60-70), N White (capt; R Loughney, 50), M Swift (E Grace, 54), M McCarthy, A Browne, E McKeon (M Kearney, 15), J O'Connor (sin-bin 50-60).

Referee N Paterson (Scotland).

Harlequins

Tries: Penalty try, Williams 2, Monye, Lowe, Botica

Cons: Evans 3, Botica

Pens: Evans 3

Connacht

Try: O'Connor

Pen: Jarvis

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea