Skinner shines as Harlequins put the wobbles behind them

Harlequins 29 Scarlets 24
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Harlequins' head coach John Kingston had been concerned that his players were talking themselves into the doldrums in recent weeks, at odds with his opinion that three close-run defeats and a draw from four away matches – they played Leicester at Twickenham, you will recall – did not add up to a significant wobble.

Returning to the Stoop, Quins fluffed only the occasional line and a bonus-point win against the already-eliminated Scarlets earned them a home quarter-final in the Heineken Cup against Leinster.

Quins have not been as far in Europe's premier competition since 1996 and 1997, when they were away in the last eight and lost to Leicester and Toulouse respectively.

Their busy, pragmatic style is epitomised by Saturday's try-scorers – Chris Robshaw, George Robson, James Percival and Tom Williams – and the captain, Will Skinner (pictured).

Injuries to Tom Rees and Lewis Moody have changed the England openside flanker pecking order – with Bath's Michael Lipman and Steffon Armitage of London Irish apparently next in line – and Skinner, who skippered England Saxons to Churchill Cup victory last June, has his supporters.

"I'd love to play for the Saxons or maybe higher," said Skinner. "I've spoken to [England manager] Martin Johnson and he just felt the other No 7s are showing more physicality. That's an area I'm focussing on."

Quins' chief executive Mark Evans had said beforehand that the quarter-final would not be moved to the Stoop and in that decision he has a prominent supporter: Dean Richards, his director of rugby.

Harlequins: Tries Robshaw, Robson, Percival, Williams; Conversions N Evans 3; Penalty N Evans. Scarlets: Tries Stoddart, Rees, G Evans; Conversions S Jones 3; Penalty S Jones.

Harlequins: N Evans; T Williams, G Tiesi (D W Barry, 40), J Turner-Hall, U Monye (C Amesbury, 35); C Malone, D Care; C Jones, T Fuga (C Brooker, 48), M Ross (M Lambert, 70), J Percival (J Evans, 63), G Robson, C Robshaw (T Guest, 63), W Skinner (capt), N Easter.

Scarlets: C Thomas (M Stoddart, 40); D Daniel, R King, J Davies (G Evans, 73), L Williams; S Jones (capt), M Roberts (G Cattle, 73); P John (I Thomas, 48), M Rees (K Owens, 67), D Manu, V Cooper, D Day, J Turnbull (S MacLeod, 54), D Jones, D Lyons.

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).

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