HARLEQUINS boss Conor O’Shea insists his players have proven they possess the credentials to nullify and overcome powerful opponents after dispatching London rivals Wasps 23-16 in the European Champions Cup at Adams Park yesterday.
Quins lock Charlie Matthews crossed the line to cancel out scrum-half Joe Simpson’s solo try as the visitors edged the opening period while a penalty try confirmed victory after Andy Goode and Nick Evans traded three penalties apiece.
Victory sees the Twickenham Stoop outfit edge ahead of Leinster at the summit of Pool Two, with O’Shea conscious the double-header against the three-time champions of the now defunct Heineken Cup will likely prove decisive.
“It was a big step forward as it was a hugely physical performance from us as people say we can’t win against sides that are physical against us,” said O’Shea. “We should have taken more chances than we did but I’m delighted as it takes a good side to do that to Wasps at Adams Park.
“Those games against Leinster will be fantastically tough matches but they are a long way off. We want to keep the feel good factor though as I love watching us play, especially when we perform with such intensity.”
Quins and Wasps have been derby rivals since the 19th century but with the latter relocating to Coventry in December, yesterday’s clash represented the final showdown between the two foes on London soil.
And with Wasps – who were missing skipper James Haskell due to a virus – losing their opening pool games and only amassing two points, director of rugby Dai Young accepts the odds are staked against his side progressing to the knockout phase.
“History will tell you if you lose your first two games then you are facing an uphill task,” said Young. “It is not totally beyond us but it’s probably fair to say it is out of our hands but we will certainly keep on fighting.
“It is a reality check. You cannot compete in the Premiership and Champions Cup with one good performance then a bad performance.”