O'Shea delights in Cup triumph
March 17, 2013
Quins' Tom Guest charges for the line on his way to the Man of the Match honour © PA Photos
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea has backed his young guns to kick on from their LV= Anglo-Welsh Cup triumph and turn up the heat on the club's international contingent.
Quins landed this season's first piece of silverware with a 32-14 victory over a battling Sale at Sixways on Sunday and are battling for two other major prizes - the Aviva Premiership and the Heineken Cup.
Wing Tom Williams, No,8 Tom Guest, centre Tom Casson and flanker Luke Wallace all crossed for Quins, while fly-half Ben Botica added 12 points via two penalties and three conversions. It was the first time Quins have won the domestic knockout cup since 1991 and O'Shea believes many of the youngsters blooded in the competition will provide the nucleus of the club "for a decade to come".
O'Shea said: "I'm just over the moon for the group. It is a long way into the season and we face a massive next nine weeks but, for those players, that is something that is a reminder to everyone coming back in the next couple of weeks.
"For the club, not only is it a major trophy. When you look at four guys in the tight five who are 21 and under, that is something for them to store away in their locker for years to come and they are the cornerstone of what this club will be about for a decade or more.
"They have won a national trophy and we said before the game not to take anything for granted because you never know when you will get there. We have been very fortunate to be in a number of finals in the last few years and to have come away with a trophy.
"There is a good vibe in the dressing room and a lot of very proud parents of young men but it sets us up to really attack what will be ups and down in the coming weeks. We know that. We have Saracens away and Gloucester away five days later, Munster in the Heineken Cup, Bath. Worcester, Northampton. It is just so unbelievably exciting for this group. Now everyone will have to play their part. We have a lot of quality to come in."
As for the game, O'Shea praised the gutsy performance from Sale, for whom centre Johnny Leota scored a try with Danny Cipriani kicking three penalties. "We remembered during the game where we were three weeks ago in the league when we were 30-7 up, we switched off and then it was 30-21. This will be disappointing for them but you know Steve Diamond will have them flying for next week"
Sale's rugby director Steve Diamond admitted his club were beaten by the better team and underlined that Premiership survival was their main goal. "We showed great spirit throughout but our skill set and application let us down at times on one-on-one tackles and then there is a mix-up in midfield just after half-time which really nailed us. But the spirit was good and we came across a side which are on the up. I've no complaints.
"We have got bigger fish to fry over the next weeks but we came here to give it our best shot and we are pleased with the effort. Just the skill set let us down."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
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