Fly half Nick Evans reckons Harlequins’ Premiership rivals have wised up to his side’s attacking style, writes Charlie Talbot-Smith.
Conor O’Shea’s troops have run in 29 tries in the first 12 games of the season, still good enough for joint top of the try-scoring charts, but in recent weeks tries have been harder to come by.
Last week’s win over London Irish was the first time the defending champions had managed more than one try in a league game since the start of November.
And while that is in no small part down to the winter weather, the fact Evans has already kicked 38 penalties this season and is on target to exceed his points total from last season tells you a lot about how teams are trying to slow down O’Shea’s side.
“We knew coming into the season as champions that teams were going to be up for the challenge of beating us,” he said.
“You only have to look at the penalty count against us to see how sides are trying to beat us.
“They are slowing the ball down at the ruck as much as possible because teams know how dangerous we can be with quick ball.
“So far I’ve managed to kick enough penalties to get us over the finishing line. We have been a bit frustrated with the weather in our past couple of games.
“The conditions have not exactly been conducive to attacking rugby but we have ground out results. That’s a sign of our developing all-court game, but we are still frustrated.”
An ankle injury in the Heineken Cup clash with Biarritz back in October saw Evans stuck on the sidelines for a month.
But with able deputy Ben Botica in harness, the Quins juggernaut carried on untroubled, meaning the Stoop outfit enter 2013 top of every competition they have entered.
And Evans reckons the club’s strength in depth has been key.
“It’s not just Ben [Botica], who has been fantastic, but it’s players all over the pitch who have been fantastic,” he added.
“The confidence we have in the younger guys, who already have so much experience, is such we will target wins in every game.”
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