"We were outworked by Exeter" says Quins chief O'Shea
Conor O’Shea admitted he can not remember many more frustrating afternoons in charge of Harlequins after Exeter Chiefs recorded a first-ever Aviva Premiership double over his side with a 27-16 victory.
Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins were looking for revenge against a Chiefs side that had beaten them 42-28 at Sandy Park back in October.
And they could not have asked for a better start as Ugo Monye crossed for a fine opening try after just six minutes.
But while Nick Evans and Ben Botica could only kick the home side more points Exeter came storming back after the restart and Damian Welch went over before Luke Arscott wrapped up a victory late on with a score of his own.
And Quins director of rugby O’Shea insists his side simply did not learn from their defeat earlier in the season as Exeter were able to reignite their Heineken Cup challenge.
“There were lots of things that were frustrating about the game,” he said.
“I said to the players afterwards that we have been outworked by Exeter.
“We were playing in the wrong areas, giving penalties away. There were times you thought we were going to kick on but I never felt that we had any of that intensity and energy that you associate with the team.
“That’s something we will have to make sure does not happen again this season. We said during the week that Exeter retain the ball and if Exeter have more ball than us then it will be difficult; if we had more ball than them it would have been difficult for them.
“We kept coughing up the ball to them, they retained it and eventually it began to tell in terms of tiredness and fatigue in defensive lines.
“You saw them really ramp it up towards the end as teams that get on top generally do. This is about top four and we are control of our destiny with five games but very frustrated with our performance.”
Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson kept his side in the game with five penalties, before the Chiefs broke out with two tries in the final quarter.
But head coach Rob Baxter believes his troops were well worth the victory, and that is was much more than simply a late flurry.
“We showed some very good intensity for the whole game,” Baxter said. “I don’t think that it was won in the last quarter.
“I think Quins were the top try scorers and you have to hold them defensively. We had a great work ethic in defence and individually our tackles stuck.
“There was good intensity, good line speed and we controlled the gain line pretty well. As the game wore on we held the territorial aces and that allowed us to be attacking for nearly all the second half.”
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