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Match Reaction: Harlequins 30 Grenoble 6

Nick Evans is annoyingly good, according to Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea, after the fly-half helped his side past Grenoble and into the European Rugby Challenge Cup final on his return from a broken leg.

Jamie Roberts scored the only try of the first half before Evans came off the bench to score one of his own in the second period.

George Lowe touched down with ten minutes remaining to seal a 30-6 victory over the Top 14 side and set up a clash with either Montpellier or Newport Gwent Dragons in next month’s final in Lyon.

Evans was returning earlier than expected from a broken leg sustained in February and his boss was full of praise after he collected his own grubber kick to score just moments after replacing Ben Botica.

“When I did something like that the ball would always bounce away, not like him, he is special,” said O’Shea.

“It is a nice place for Nick to come on because we saw their line speed and we were looking at the space in behind and he was able to take all that in and say OK, I see where all this space is, and that is why it’s nice sometimes coming off the bench.

“But then he, typical him, he’s good at everything so it’s pretty annoying.”

The win sets up a grandstand finale for the departing O’Shea, who will leave the Stoop at the end of the season to coach the Italian national side.

He refused to make the occasion about him though.

“It just means something to the club, you start out every season and there are only two trophies available,” he added.

“We want to be in the Champions Cup obviously and we have had great times here but I just want to see Danny Care lifting the trophy.

“Adam Jones, that was his first ever European semi-final, he has 95 caps but you don’t get many opportunities at trophies.

“Silverware is silverware, that is what you are judged on, we have a long, long, way to go but it is exciting to have that at the end of the season and we have to manage our way through these last three league games and try and get into the top six.”

Harlequins beat Montpellier 41-18 in their pool earlier in the competition and O’Shea said their whole season has been building towards these decisive weeks.

His side are aiming for a record-breaking fourth Challenge Cup victory but he knows they cannot afford to relax in the build-up to the final.

He added: “I’m delighted for the players, I though the conditions were really difficult, to say the least.

“We did a lot of the dirty work in the first half because there was a physical dominance which was led by the pack – and it was always going to be on a day like that.

“We set our stall out right from word go when we played Montpellier, we said we want to win this thing and we’re 80 minutes away.

“We are looking forward to it in three weeks but we will focus back on the Aviva Premiership and I am delighted with the disciplined nature in which we just stuck to the sort of rugby that was needed to be played.”
 
Harlequins: Brown, Yarde, Lowe (Chisholm 72), Roberts, Visser, Botica (Evans 51), Care (Dickson 69), Marler (Lambert 69), Gray (Ward 69), Jones (Sinckler 57), Horwill, Twomey (Matthews 67), Robshaw, Wallace, Easter (Clifford 62)
 
Scorers:
Tries: Roberts, Evans, Lowe
Conversions: Botica, Evans 2
Penalties: Botica 2, Evans
 
Grenoble: Aplon, Mignot (Gengenbacher 64), Farrell, Hunt (Estebanez 11), Dupont, Wisniewski, McLeod, Taumalolo (Barcella 57), Heguy (Jammes 62), Edwards (Desmaison 8), Hand, Percival (Marie 67), Diaby (Vanderglas 67, Hart 69), Alexandre, Setephano
 
Scorers:
Penalties: Wisniewski 2
 
Referee: John Lacey
Attendance: 10,563
 

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