Harlequins director of rugby John Kingston was full of praise for English youngster Joe Marchant after his try helped them to a 21-19 over Bristol Rugby on their return to Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Marchant danced through three tackles in the final throes of the first-half to give Harlequins a 15-14 half-time lead after Bristol had initially raced 11 points ahead.
The youngster struggled to deal with Ryan Edwards kick immediately after the break, which led to Bristol’s third try, but he was nevertheless hugely promising against Andy Robinson’s impressive Bristol side.
Kingston – who has taken over from new Italy coach Conor O’Shea – was quick to laud the performance and attitude of World Rugby Under-20 Championship winner Marchant.
“Joe is a wonderful talent, when you have young players that are immensely promising, you have to be careful what it is you are expecting of them straight away,” Kingston said.
“I understand that he is in the 45-man EPS and therefore people are looking at him closely, but you don’t just suddenly jump to the top – it takes time.
“He will have learnt a huge amount today playing on that stage and playing with the type of players who were around him – Nick Evans, Jamie Roberts, Marland Yarde.
“Playing around those guys around him, he has certainly come off with a smile on his face and he is at the stage in his life where he is honoured and flattered to be playing in front of 47,000 people at the national stadium.
“It is fantastic for him, it will be a steep learning curve for him as it is for all our youngsters, every time they go out and play in such situations we go out and talk to him.
“He has got a wonderful phlegmatic attitude to life as well, which means he will listen and take things on board.”
Quins face a tough away trip to the AJ Bell Stadium next time out and though Sale Sharks lost away to Newcastle Falcons on Friday night, they lost only once at home last year.
Robinson meanwhile was left to rue a costly period just before the break where Harlequins scored 12 points through Marchant and Yarde.
Yet it was an extremely positive performance from Bristol, who looked extremely comfortable on their return to the Aviva Premiership after a seven year absence.
And former England head coach Robinson believes there were far more positives to take ahead of next week’s home clash with Northampton Saints.
“I thought the players to a man were outstanding in their attitudes today and I feel really proud of the way they have gone out and played,” the 52-year-old said.
“It was a cracking game of rugby, it shows what the Aviva Premiership is all about, we are delighted with the support we had. I think the Bristol fans were fantastic and inspired the players to perform.
“Right through the squad, the whole 23, the way they approached the game was tremendous. We have just got to keep on working hard.
“The thing about the Premiership is that it will be exactly like that next week, can we now front up next week?
“We are playing at Ashton Gate, we owe the supporters a good performance and if we put in the showing today then we can win those close games.”
Harlequins: Ross Chisholm; Marland Yarde, Joe Marchant, Jamie Roberts, Tim Visser (Alofa Alofa, 68); Nick Evans (Ruaridh Jackson, 68) Danny Care (Karl Dickson, 72); Joe Marler, Rob Buchanan (Dave Ward, 56), Kyle Sinckler (Will Collier, 56), Sam Twomey (George Merrick, 58), James Horwill, Chris Robshaw, Luke Wallace, Jack Clifford (Mat Luamanu, 61)
Unused Replacements: Owen Evans
Bristol Rugby: Jack Wallace; Ryan Edwards, Will Hurrell, Gavin Henson (Ben Mosses, 30) Tom Varndell; Tusi Pisi, Will Cliff (Rhodri Williams, 63); Soane Tonga’uiha (Kyle Traynor, 61), Ross McMillan (Chris Brooker, 58), Gaston Cortes (Anthony Perenise, 53), James Phillips (Joe Joyce, 56), Ben Glynn, Jon Fisher (Mitch Eadie, 61), Jack Lam (c), Jordan Crane (Olly Robinson, 67)
Tries: Yarde, Marchant
Penalties: Evans 3
Bristol Rugby 19
Tries: Varndell, Pisi, Edwards
Conversions: Henson 2
Referee: Luke Pearce
Aviva Premiership Rugby returns this weekend. For a full fixture list please click here