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European round-up: O’Shea sees positives in defeat

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea saw no reason to panic as his side’s European Challenge Cup pool stage exploits finished with a heavy defeat to Montpellier in France.

Five wins from five had already guaranteed Quins a home quarter-final before their trip to France and a much-changed side fell to a 42-9 defeat.

The Stoop-outfit only trailed 15-9 at the interval – all of their points coming from the boot of Ben Botica – but they were punished in the second half when Matt Luamanu was sent to the sin bin.

But while their perfect record in Europe is now at an end – O’Shea was far from distraught at his side’s performance.

"There is a lot to take from a game like this, so I'm pretty philosophical about it. We knew it was going to be tough coming over here," admitted O'Shea.

"The scoreline is pretty unreflective in the end, we definitely got on the wrong end of the referee, as you often do away from home. There was a massive momentum shift just as we were going into half 9-8 ahead.

"For the majority of the second half we were under massive pressure, but I think they only scored one try in 25 minutes. In the end, the scoreline was certainly unreflective of the game.

"This game won't have much of an impact on our campaign – we were five from five and had secured our home quarter-final. This was a fairly even game in the first half to say the least.

"We gave a lot of people a good opportunity tonight, and we'll move on. We won't get carried away by the emotional last couple of minutes of the game.”

Elsewhere in the Challenge Cup on Friday night, head coach Carl Hogg could not hide his disappointment at Worcester Warriors’ defeat to La Rochelle.

The 35-11 defeat means the Warriors finish bottom of their European pool – Luke Baldwin scoring their sole try in the reversal.

With the scores locked at 6-6 at the interval Hogg would have had high hopes that the Warriors could halt their slide in Europe – but it wasn’t to be.

"We put a huge amount of effort in that first half, but we couldn't get a foothold in the game because of line-outs. We lost field position because of that, although our scrum was outstanding against one of the biggest forward packs I've ever seen," said Hogg.

"We lost out in that 10-minute period where we conceded two quick tries and the contest was over. To put in that much effort and lose is frustrating."
 
Montpellier 42 Harlequins 9
 
Montpellier
Tries: Mogg, Liebenberg, White, Reilhac, Geli
Conversions: Catrakilis 2, Trinh-Duc 2
Penalties: Catrakilis 3
 
Harlequins
Penalties: Botica 3
 
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Attendance: 7,500
 
La Rochelle 35 Worcester Warriors 11
 

La Rochelle
Tries: Graham, Lapeyre, Murimurivalu, Nailiko
Conversions: Audy, Barraque 2
Penalties: Holmes 2, Audy
 
Worcester
Tries: Baldwin
Penalties: Symons 2
 
Referee: Elia Rizzo
Attendance: 8,500
 

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