Conor O’Shea was quick to praise Saracens after they demolished his Harlequins side at the Stoop – but he warned his players he will be looking for a reaction next time out.
Harlequins hosted Saracens looking to get one over their London rivals after they had done the double on them last season.
But it never looked like coming off as fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked three penalties and converted his own try for a 16-0 half-time lead.
And try as they might after the restart Harlequins simply couldn’t find a way on the scoreboard despite dominating possession and territory, Saracens having no such problems as Chris Ashton and Will Fraser added further scores for a 39-0 victory.
And while Harlequins director of rugby O’Shea put his hands up and admitted his charges had been well beaten, he insists lightning won’t strike twice for the rest of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season.
“I am not angry, you can’t be angry. It is unbelievable and I didn’t see it coming and it is incredibly frustrating.”
“I am not angry, you can’t be angry,” he said. “It is unbelievable and I didn’t see it coming and it is incredibly frustrating.
“Hats off to them and it will be a massive mental challenge to the whole group because that is not us.
“It was outstanding by Saracens and I am not going to take anything away from them but in the cold light of day we need to regroup for next week.
“We were up for it, no question. We had 70 per cent in the first half but did nothing with it and kept coughing the ball up.
“We had huge possession and territory in the second half but kept coughing the ball up and they were outstanding in their reaction with two intercept tries, almost three or four.
“They are an outstanding side, we are incredibly disappointed and this is a massive low for us but we have to react. You can’t hide.
“They were outstanding and we were terrible in so many ways. In terms of controlling the ball it wasn’t us and it is a bitter pill to do that in front of your home fans because we set such high standards for ourselves.
“But it is just one game and in terms of highs and lows in a season that is as low as we want to go on this rollercoaster.”
With a personal haul of 22 points, many eyes at the Stoop were on Hodgson as the Saracens No.10 rolled back the years.
But director of rugby Mark McCall was quick to ensure the spotlight shined on all of his team as Sarries made it two wins from two this Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign.
“I said pre-match we lacked a bit of energy last week but we didn’t lack any energy this game,” McCall said.
“I thought our performance was outstanding, the work ethic was outstanding and all night we got pressure on them and we are very happy with that.
“Our set-piece was good tonight, our scrum was good and our line-out was good and a lot of credit to our forward coaches who put in a lot of preparation for this match. We were able to build some pressure on Quins and score a couple of tries off the back of that pressure.
“Charlie was great. He will be the first to say he got a good platform but he controlled the game beautifully and he got his charge down and he had a great game.
“But I was delighted with the lot of them. Richard Wigglesworth was magnificent I thought and some of those young guns in the pack were really good too.”
Harlequins: Brown, Yarde, Hopper, Turner-Hall, Lindsay-Hague, Evans (Botica 41), Care, (Dickson 63) Marler, Gray (Buchanan 59), Sinckler (Collier 59), Matthews (Merrick 61), Robson, Wallace, Robshaw, Easter
Replacements not used: Lambert, Clifford, Walker
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Taylor, Barritt, Strettle (Wyles 63), Hodgson (Farrell 66), Wigglesworth (Spencer 73), Barrington (Gill 51), George (Spurling 79), Longbottom (Du Plessis 54), Kruis, Hargreaves (Botha 66), Wray (Brown 51), Fraser, B Vunipola
Tries: Hodgson, Ashton, Fraser
Conversions: Hodgson, Farrell 2
Penalties: Hodgson 5, Goode
Referee: Wayne Barnes