Harlequins 30-23 Leicester Tigers, Aviva Premiership final
Robshaw: Quins have silenced doubters
May 26, 2012
Quins skipper Chris Robshaw reacts to his side's triumph
Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw believes they have silenced their doubters by beating Leicester Tigers to claim a maiden Aviva Premiership title.
The flanker - who will lead England on three-Test tour of South Africa in the coming weeks - claimed a try and the Man of the Match award as Quins battled to a 30-23 victory at Twickenham.
It capped a dominant season in which Conor O'Shea's side had led the Premiership table since mid-September.
Despite that some have suggested Quins have held a false position, after the likes of Leicester's star names spent the initial part of the season on Rugby World Cup duty.
"Some people wrote us off and said we're only there because of the World Cup," he said. "We've proved them wrong. It is so surreal. We owe a lot of it to the fans. It's so nice to repay them. It's been about the squad all year, I think this squad has allowed us to fight on all fronts."
Quins had looked home and dry when they led 30-13 with 14 minutes left but the Tigers struck back with a converted Anthony Allen try - after a clever Ben Youngs break - and a George Ford penalty to set up tense final 10 minutes.
"At the end it was nerve-wracking but that's what we've been like this season," Robshaw said. "It was a bit difficult, especially when Ben Youngs went through. They scored off a few of our mistakes today but we held on."
Nick Evans capped his own remarkable season with silverware and added: "What a season. That game sums up our season - we play well, get two scores in front and let them back in. We've been there to be shot at and we've held them off all season so it's great. We've thoroughly deserved this."
Asked if the breakthrough success had erased the club's recent controversies, including the infamous 'Bloodgate' scandal, Evans added:
"They're gone. As far as I'm concerned they're gone. All due respect to media, it's a tattoo on the club, but those players have left. If we stay together as a team then I'm sure we'll get a lot more wins and a lot more trophies hopefully."
O'Shea, the club's director of rugby, warned today's win could signal the start of a period of dominance for his side. "We want to be a great side. This has to be a starting point. We'll start from scratch next year, but we'll enjoy tonight. It's a very special day for the club. I'm so proud of the effort of those players."
O'Shea added: "Chris epitomises what the club is about. He doesn't get ahead of himself, he is ultra competitive. Good teams win, great teams kick on. This group of players, because of the type of person Robbo is, won't be allowed to rest on their laurels. I am delighted for him."
Tigers boss Richard Cockerill reflects on his side's defeat
The Harlequins director or rugby also paid tribute to the foundations that Dean Richards laid before he left the club under a cloud to serve a three-year ban for Bloodgate.
"A couple of years ago this team said it wanted to create a different chapter in Quins history," O'Shea reflected. "It is a massive tribute to Dean, for putting so many of the structures in place, and a lot of people at the club including the owners. It's a very special day for the club. I'm so proud of the effort of those players."
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill conceded Quins deserved their victory and bemoaned his side's lack of composure.
"We didn't cherish the ball. We tried to force it a bit too much which we didn't want to do," he said. "They outplayed us at times although we still managed to score two good tries and fight right until the end again. But they probably deserved it. We will go away now and regroup.
"We just needed to be a bit more composed. We will be better for the experience - but this wasn't a learning experience. We came here to win.
"We didn't and that was disappointing. That is sport. Someone has to lose and it is us, again. It is back to back finals. We are the only side that has been here eight times on the trot.
"It is not OK to come to a final and lose. We came here to win. We have lost back-to-back finals - but we have been in them, which is more than most sides. They have been top of the league for most of the season and they played well today. In the end they probably deserved to win."
Toby Flood dropped off the bench before kick-off with a groin injury but Cockerill believes he will be fit to go on tour with England, having overcome the original ankle problem.
"His ankle has been really good. He had a slightly tight groin. He wasn't comfortable so we decided not to include him," Cockerill said. "This time next week he should be fit to go. It is somebody else's problem now."
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