Paul Gustard stopped short of calling it his best win as Harlequins’ head of rugby, but he did concede it was probably one of his most important.

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Against league leaders Exeter, and with the clock ticking down, Quins showed no little bravery in claiming a last-gasp 34-30 victory at the Stoop.

Time and again in the closing stages they turned down simple shots at goal that would have earned them a draw – and went for the win.

And it paid off in the end, as referee Christophe Ridley awarded a dramatic late penalty try that gave Quins a bonus point win which lifts them back into the top six.

“That was one of the more important wins,” admitted Gustard, whose Harlequins side came into the clash ninth in the table with only one win in their last five.

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“I was really impressed with the character of the team, six and a half minutes to go, to go for a scrum and not settle for a draw.

“I think the referee got the call right at the end. Their loosehead turned his hips out and drove across.

“For me, one point would not have been enough, two points would have been OK, but it was important we had the balls to go for the four or the five. And with three tries already, it moves us up the table significantly.”

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Quins have had to come through no little adversity of late. They have a lengthy injury list and were humbled on home soil by London Irish earlier this month.

It looked like fate might conspire again when, with seconds remaining, Ridley blew early as Gabriel Ibitoye went over on a Harlequins advantage.

But in the end it mattered not and Gustard hopes his side have turned a corner.

“We are getting back to where we need to be. That character was one of the hallmarks of last season,” he added.

“We have some cavalry coming back. Francis Saili, you saw his impact after three months, he is one of six centres we have out.

“There is more cavalry to come, they will all add to the squad.”

Meanwhile, the league leaders saw their seven-game away unbeaten run ended.

And while Rob Baxter disagreed with the final penalty try decision, he admitted his side had deservedly come off second best.

“We had plenty of other opportunities to see it out,” he said.

“I never felt it was a penalty try, we weren’t going backwards. That’s the thing with scrum penalties.

“But you have to have more discipline than that, and fair play to Harlequins.

“They could have chosen three or four times to take the three points and draw the game. They decided to work very hard, and eventually they have worked us, got that penalty try and won the game.

“You have to give them the credit for that.”

Press Association

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