O'Shea refuses to blame mis-firing Evans
September 30, 2012
Harlequins' Mike Brown is shackled by the Saracens defence © Getty Images
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea refused to criticise fly-half Nick Evans after his lacklustre kicking display handed Saracens an 18-16 victory in their Aviva Premiership clash at The Stoop.
The Kiwi playmaker missed four crucial penalty attempts as the defending champions slumped to their first defeat of the season. In contrast, Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell landed six penalties from six attempts - the last of which came six minutes from time - to help his side notch their third win of the campaign.
But O'Shea was in no mood to blame Evans. He said: "Of course it could have been completely different but he's won a million games for us and hopefully he'll win a lot more. He's an outstanding player."
The Quins boss added: "We gave them six penalties and they kicked six penalties. We weren't up to the levels we want to be. It became the game they wanted in terms of flow but that's a credit to them.
"We're disappointed to lose but it's a long, long season. We should have won that game but we didn't. We didn't take our opportunities. It wasn't a good game of rugby at all but it was tight.
"The big games are decided by very small margins and they didn't go our way this time. We never get carried away when we win, we're not going to get carried away when we lose."
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall revealed that a 'clear the air' following his side's defeat to Exeter last time out helped lay the foundation for their return to winning ways. "It's a big relief. In the last couple of weeks we have lost ourselves a bit. We talked about ourselves and what we're about as a club but we've found ourselves today."
McCall was also concerned that referee Andrew Small did not refer the only try of the match, scored by Quins scrum-half Danny Care, to the Television Match Official. He said: "I didn't get a great view but it looked like there had been a knock-on. He does have the facility to go upstairs but he didn't."
Farrell, who continues to share the Saracens No.10 shirt with Charlie Hodgson, was also delighted to return to top form after attracting recent criticism. "We've a brilliant kicking coach in Dan Vickers and we've made little changes but I'm still kicking basically the same."
Farrell added: "We were back to where we play as a team, with the intensity we showed. We put things right today. The main thing for us was to get back playing for each other. It never really went away - we just needed a little reminder."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September