O’Shea insists Harlequins can challenge for title despite another defeat

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea insists his side will still challenge in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season but admits they need to cut out the mistakes that prevented them building up momentum.

Quins slumped to a 36-13 defeat at Exeter Chiefs, their second loss of the season, which leaves last year’s semi-finalists ninth in the early season table.

“We were inaccurate from minute one of the game and handed the ball to the opposition the whole time – you can’t play rugby like that,” he said.

“I told the guys it is unacceptable and embarrassing and we have to go out against London Welsh next week and do the job at home to build our season.

“We don’t want to turn in on each other but that was not even remotely about what we are as a club and I don’t expect to see that again.

“Their scores were coming off our errors and at 22-13 we had one of their men in the bin but we lost that period 7-0 through our inaccuracies.

“If you’re going to make basic errors like that you’re not going to win many games. You don’t become a bad side overnight but there will be a lot of question marks about how we react.”

Meanwhile, Rob Baxter believes Exeter Chiefs have cast off a couple of unwanted curses in Aviva Premiership Rugby by securing a clinical victory at Sandy Park.

Despite leading 19-6 at the break against Quins – thanks to Thomas Waldrom’s early try – the Chiefs saw Asaeli Tikoirotuma cross shortly after the restart and had Jack Nowell sent to the bin to leave Baxter fearing the worst.

But the hosts rallied with tries from captain Jack Yeandle and Henry Slade, alongside 15 points from Gareth Steenson, to clinch their largest ever victory over Quins but only their second home win of 2014.

“We looked like we were trying our hardest just after half-time to make it one of those tight games but we weathered that little storm and gathered momentum by the end of the game,” said Baxter.

“I’m massively proud of the players and they felt a bit of pressure about this so-called kind of hoodoo about not being able to see off tight games or win at home.

“This is what you learn about Aviva Premiership Rugby – you can be in a real wrestle of a game but in the end can actually be playing for a bonus-point as things break up.

“Watching the boys run back to receive the last kick-off and then go after a fourth try was very rewarding.

“To not only have beaten Harlequins but then be chasing down an extra point was fantastic and the boys were even disappointed we couldn’t convert because we had an opportunity there at the end.”

Exeter Chiefs; Dollman (James 74); Nowell, Slade, Hill (Whitten 58), Jess; Steenson, Chudley; Moon (Rimmer 67), Yeandle (Taione 76), Francis (Low 58), Lees (Armand 64), Welch, Ewers, White (Horstmann 58), Waldrom
Replacements not used: Patrick Phibbs

Harlequins; Brown (Grimoldby 73); Yarde, Sloan (Lindsay-Hague 15), Turner-Hall, Tikoirotuma; Botica, Care (Dickson 67); Marler, Ward, Sinckler (Collier 56), Matthews, Robson, Wallace (Trayfoot 68), Robshaw, Easter
Replacements not used: Joe Gray, Sam Twomey


Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Waldrom, Yeandle, Slade
Conversions: Steenson 3
Penalties: Steenson 3, Slade 2

Tries: Tikoirotuma
Conversions: Botica
Penalties: Botica 2

Referee: Andrew Small
Attendance: 9,271

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