Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea was satisfied with Joe Marler’s first game as club captain, despite a second half yellow in their 20-15 Double Header clash win over London Irish at Twickenham.
Early tries from Ugo Monye and Ollie Lindsay-Hague helped Quins to a 20-6 lead at half-time, with an inconsistent Nick Evans missing several very makable penalty attempts.
Marler saw yellow a minute into the second period, and after Kyle Sinckler joined him in the bin Shane Geraghty pulled Irish back into the game with five penalties from six overall.
Quins held out but O’Shea was less than impressed with the overall performance, although he said Joe Marler had taken to the captaincy like a ‘duck to water’.
“I thought he captained the side well. You can’t look at one overly-physical tackle and say that dictates his performance. He’ll only improve.
“Of course he is disappointed to get carded first game but we had started to chase tackles and make the big hits to get the turnovers and wrestle momentum back.
“First half we were outstanding, but the emotion is always in how you finish and our second-half wasn’t good enough.
“We let them back into a game we were completely in control of, comfortably on top and playing the better rugby.
“Second-half we gave the momentum back through our ill-discipline, but credit to the guys for not giving away any tries.
“Emotionally we feel pretty down about the second-half because that’s not us, but it’s game one of 22.
“I know how much we have in the locker, and six days from now at the Stoop we’ll crank it up a few notches.”
Meanwhile London Irish coach Brian Smith was left frustrated the Exiles’ first half performance left them too much to do, but saw positives in the way his new signings played.
“I think it was a classic game of two halves. We didn’t get any traction in the first half, conceding penalties and couldn’t get going,” he said.
“We were a little bit frustrated and that set us back. We struggled to cope and Quins as they do rattled up the score, and we felt like we got to half-time without firing any shots.
“The second-half was a good fightback. We struggled to get into their 22 as we were too busy kicking pens from their 40, although that kept us in touch.
“They are a quality outfit, and we could have nicked it. I’d have definitely taken the bonus point at half-time.
“We had five new starters today, seven in the squad. The second-half scrum performance was outstanding and the new boys in the engine room did very well.
“Scott Steele made a fair fist of it, and Tomas O’Leary really lit the game up when he came on as we expected.”
London Irish: Homer (Fowlie 6, Ellis 77); Ojo, Mulchrone, Sheridan (Noakes 65), Short; Geraghty, Steele (O’Leary 48); Court (Parr 74), Paice, Aulika (Halavatau 53), Skivington (Low 59), Leo (Gilsenan 79), Cowan, Treviranus, Guest
Harlequins: Brown; Yarde, Hopper, Turner-Hall, Monye (Lindsay-Hague 27); Evans, Care; Marler, Gray (Buchanan 53), Sinckler (Collier 60), Matthews (Merrick 59), Robson, Wallace (Lambert 46, Clifford 64), Robshaw, Easter Not used: Dickson, Botica
Penalties: Geraghty 5
Tries: Monye, Lindsay-Hague , Conversions: Evans 2 , Penalties: Evans 2
Referee: Greg Garner