Director of rugby Conor O’Shea is under no illusions about the task facing Harlequins in Aviva Premiership Rugby this year – but insists reports of his side’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
After a heavy defeat to Exeter Chiefs last out, Quins bounced back in some style by racking seven tries up in a 52-0 win against London Welsh – including Marland Yarde’s first double for the club.
This time last year the Londoners had won just two of their first five opening games.
And though O’Shea readily admits his team have not got off to a flying start this time around, he has urged for Quins to be judged come the very end of the season.
“There’s lots we can improve on,” he said. “This is a brutal league and the margins are small. We’re going to fight tooth and nail.
“This year we’re three out of five (wins) so we’re better off than last year. It was nice to get a bit of continuity out there.
“This is a brutal league and the margins are small. We’re going to fight tooth and nail.” – Conor O’Shea
“We haven’t started the season as well as we wanted but to write us off after four games is pretty insulting.
“I don’t care about the result, we have to be willing to fight. We’ve got a lot of guys who like a fight and like a challenge.
“This is just such a long season, such a brutal season but we’re ready for it.
“Sport is about emotion and when you achieve things there is such a high. Last year was brutal and this year is going to be even tougher.
“We need to play the way people recognise us and we’ve got plenty of time to do that.”
Quins started in explosive fashion, Mike Brown and Danny Care both crossing inside the first quarter of an hour.
Welsh did not leak any further tries before the break but the dam well and truly burst in the second half, Yarde’s double, Matt Hopper, Karl Dickson and a penalty try piling on the misery.
And Exiles head coach Justin Burnell admits only hard work will dig his side out of their current rut, following five defeats in their first five Aviva Premiership Rugby games.
He said: “We struggled across the board – we were just well beaten to be honest with you.
“It’s tough at the moment. We’ve just got to keep plugging away and hopefully something can happen.
“It’s definitely the best club league in the world and just it’s going up another level. To compete is a lot of hard work.
“We saw a very good Quins side and we were constantly under the cosh in every area of the game.”
Tries: Brown, Care, Yarde 2, Hopper, penalty, Dickson
Conversions: Evans 7
Harlequins: Brown (Lindsay-Hague 70); Yarde, Hopper, Casson (Botica 45), Tikoirotuma; Evans, Care (Dickson 52); Marler (Lambert 52), Gray (Ward 57), Sinckler (Collier 45); Matthews, Robson (Twomey 64); Wallace, Robshaw (Sinckler, 73), Easter (Trayfoot 64).
London Welsh: Jewell (Crane 12); Stegmann, Reynolds, May, Scott; Barkley (Roberts 63), Weepu (Lewis 46); Reeves (Henn 45), Britton (Morris 55), Vea (Aholelei 55-59); Schofield, Down; Browne, McCaffrey (Pienaar 45), Stedman (Hala’ufia 45).
Referee: Dean Richards