O'Shea tries to keep a lid on enthusiasm
December 18, 2011
Toulouse centre Yannick Jauzion fires a pass wide during the game in France © Getty Images
Harlequins celebrated a "special" result as they posted a 31-24 victory at Toulouse on Sunday afternoon - but director of rugby Conor O'Shea sounded a note of caution after the surprise success.
Two tries from Mike Brown, either side of Joe Gray's first-half effort, plus 16 points from the boot of Nick Evans, sealed a famous 31-24 win that blew Pool 6 wide open. Scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain scored a try among his 15 points as Toulouse claimed a losing bonus point that kept them top of the group, a point ahead of Harlequins, while Gloucester are also now back in contention to qualify for the quarter-finals.
O'Shea said: "Right now this feels like we've won a cup final but it's a pool game and we have to make sure we keep learning.
"The resolve the players showed was incredible. We have a good record away from home but we knew coming here we were going to have to ride our luck at times in the face of wave after wave of pressure.
"They missed a couple of kicks but we had the ambition to play and everyone involved with Harlequins must be very proud of the effort of the players.
"We won't stick our heads in the sand and say it was a perfect performance but these are the days that make the Heineken Cup and the games you are judged on."
Harlequins had gained a surprise 15-3 lead after just 18 minutes when Brown and Gray both crossed as a result of well-placed kicks by fly-half Evans.
Evans' opposite number Luke McAlister, however, scuffed three chances at goal before Toulouse hit back just before half-time through Yoann Maestri. Doussain took over the kicking duties and handed Toulouse a 19-15 lead with a strong of penalties as Harlequins were forced to dig deep not to concede a second try.
However, Tom Williams turned over possession with a telling tackle on Vincent Clerc, from which Brown scored Harlequins' third - and decisive - try in the 62nd minute.
O'Shea said: "We have shown how quickly we can learn at this level. We were disappointed with a few things from the previous game at the Stoop but we got our line-speed in defence right and that pressured them [Toulouse] into mistakes.
"When you look at their bench, they were bringing on more power after power but when you're in the match, you get carried away with adrenaline and that's what happened here.
"We got a few breaks and then Tom Williams came off the bench and produced a game-changing moment that got us right back into the game when we needed it most. Then we held out for a big result."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship