Amlin Challenge Cup: Conor O'Shea says Harlquins must bounce back from Northampton loss for Premiership fight
Last Updated: 26/04/14 10:46am
Conor O’Shea expects Harlequins to lick their wounds and bounce back to fight for a Premiership play-off berth after their European adventure came to an end.
Quins travelled to Franklin’s Gardens for an all-English Amlin Cup semi-final with Northampton Saints on Friday night, which their hosts won 18-10 courtesy of tries from Tom Collins and Kahn Fotuali'i.
However, O’Shea refused to call time on his side’s season as they continue their bid for a top four finish in the Premiership, where they currently sit six points below fourth-placed Leicester Tigers.
We didn’t get the energy that we required in terms of the little bounces of the ball that went your way in a match that very little happened.
“It’s only damaging if you let it be damaging,” the Harlequins head coach told Sky Sports.
“People think sport is about this upward curve and you never get blips or disappointments, but without this the emotion of the wins would never be as high.
“You have to take it and actually how you react to adversity is actually more important than being able to take the good times the whole time.”
Harlequins failed to seize the initiative in the opening stages with Saints winger Jamie Elliott sin-binned in the third minute, while fly-half Ben Botica – deputising for the injured Nick Evans – was only able to make 33 percent of his kicks.
“I think the little things in the match all went against us but you have to credit them for the way they went about it,” O’Shea added.
“We didn’t get the energy that we required in terms of the little bounces of the ball that went your way in a match that very little happened.
“It wasn’t the greatest spectacle the world has ever created; the ball was slow out of the breakdown so when we started to get our game going at time it was just that little bit slower.
“You talk about little energy moments. At 11-3 in the second half we miss a penalty and then suddenly it’s 18-3 and those are the little things you need to go your way.”
Despite being left to lament squandered opportunities, O’Shea believes Northampton merited their place in the Cardiff final on the night.
“Northampton, on the balance of it, deserve to win tonight I think, we didn’t bring everything we’re about,” he admitted.
“But, we keep putting ourselves in these positions, sometimes you have disappointment and sometimes you have success.”
With their European adventure over, Quins must turn their attention to claiming a top four finish and a Premiership semi-final.
The London-based side travel to Sandy Park on May 4 to face Exeter Chiefs before finishing their season against Bath and O’Shea is hoping all his key players can recover for the pivotal fixtures.
“We just have to make sure the injured guys lick their wounds and are ready for Exeter on Sunday week,” he added.
“Mike Brown fell on the concrete when he was taken out in mid-air, luckily it wasn’t his head and hopefully he’ll be alright, Nick Evans should be fine, George Robson got knocked out, they’re the sort of things we hope to get sorted in nine days, fortunately we have nine days.
“We know what we need to do and what we need to do to get in the top four and you never know, you get another play-off.
“You just have to keep on playing these big games and win like we have over the past few seasons but sometimes you have nights like this and you just have to cop it and move on.”
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder revealed British and Irish Lions wing George North went off in the first half with a calf injury picked up in the warm-up, but was delighted with scrum-half Fotuali'i's performance.
"Kahn is a special player," said Mallinder. "There were two outstanding nines on the field. Danny Care has been in great form and we marshalled him well, but I thought Kahn was outstanding.
"Defensively we were very good for 80 minutes and stopped a lot of their threats, Danny Care in particular. We took our opportunities in attack and our half-backs were very good at putting us in the right position."