Henson highlights Quins headaches

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The Independent Online

It has been a harrowing couple of weeks for Harlequins. Thumped twice in quick succession by the Ospreys and, in particular, Gavin Henson, their chief executive Mark Evans is rueing the second tranche of Heineken Cup matches.

It has been a harrowing couple of weeks for Harlequins. Thumped twice in quick succession by the Ospreys and, in particular, Gavin Henson, their chief executive Mark Evans is rueing the second tranche of Heineken Cup matches.

Just as his side had managed to reverse a terrible start to the season - seven consecutive league defeats - they have regressed to a pitiful shambles, conceding points, penalties and earning more yellow-cards than plaudits; three in this match alone.

"In the last seven matches we had got our tries conceded down to about 1.3 a match so to concede six now...", said Evans, the rest of the unspoken sentence speaking volumes. "Not that that takes away from the Ospreys. They are a good side and I think Gavin Henson is a wonderful player," he continued, "but we should not allow our level to slip like that whatever competition we play in. The way we played off the ball particularly disappointed me."

Exactly, because they missed tackles and gifted line breaks that a talented Osprey back-line took full advantage of. Henson orchestrated proceedings superbly from inside-centre, and with Sonny Parker on his outside and Shane Williams and Stefan Terblanche on the wings Quins were fortunate to concede only six scores.

The first was a deft cross-field kick by Henson that allowed Terblanche to utilise his reach and height advantage over Simon Keogh. The second was a late run into the line by Henson, the third a dropped restart by Quins and a missed tackle as Ryan Jones peeled off the back of the scrum and was as good as escorted to the try-line and the fourth, the one that earned the bonus point and killed the game, a 40-metre dash by Henson.

Up to then, though Quins had been competitive with three penalties by Andy Jarvis and a try by Will Greenwood that had deserved the lead. What disrupted them were yellow cards in the second half to Luke Sherriff, Karl Rudzki and Ace Tiatia. "We spent 30 minutes playing with at least one man down," explained Evans, "and our discipline was poor, really poor."

The Ospreys in contrast were inventive and pacy and have at the least given themselves an outside chance of qualification. The small matter of a daunting trip to Thomond Park awaits, and then Castres at home, but for Quins it is back to where they were three weeks ago - desperate for league wins to prevent a bad season turning into a disastrous one.

Harlequins: T Williams; G Harder, W Greenwood, D James, S Keogh; A Jarvis, S So'oialo; C Jones, T Fuga (A Tiatia, 48), M Fitz Gerald, R Winters (K Rudzki, 48), S Miall, N Easter, A Vos (capt), L Sherriff.

Neath: A Durston; S Terblanche (E Seveali'i, 71), S Parker, G Henson, S Williams; M Jones, J Spice (A Williams, 76); D Jones (P James, 71), B Williams (capt, M Davies, 36), A Millward, A Newman (B Cockbain, 75), J Thomas, J Bater, R Jones (A Lloyd, 75), S Tandy.

Referee: C Berdos (France).

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