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Stormers try questioned as Quins' European season branded a 'failure'

Marcus Smith - PA

Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson admitted his team’s season is in danger of fizzling out after they left it too late to salvage their Heineken Champions Cup last-16 clash at the Stormers.


Quins scored 21 unanswered points in the final eight minutes in Cape Town to cut the Stormers lead to 32-28, but with their final score coming deep into injury time the visitors had no chance to complete what would have been a stunning recovery.

The end of the road in Europe means Quins only have domestic honours to challenge for, but they are in eighth place and 10 points off the top four in the Gallagher Premiership with just three matches remaining.

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Matson conceded his side are outsiders in the Premiership race with just that left to focus on, but said: “We have got a steep road to climb but I am an optimist.

“We do have a tough road to get into the top four and clearly this campaign has been a failure. In play-off games away from home you have to be at your best and we weren’t.


“To score three tries in the last seven minutes shows we will fight to the end. We thought if we matched them physically we could put them under pressure but we couldn’t do it consistently enough. We missed our opportunities.”

Harlequins had plenty of territory and possession at DHL Stadium, but the Stormers defence was able to stand firm until the final few minutes.


The reigning URC champions, who scored tries through Deon Fourie (two), Steven Kitshoff, Damian Willemse and Willie Engelbrecht as they established a 32-7 lead, used the cross-kick to good effect, while Quins only released their wide attackers once the game was all-but lost.

Matson, though, was upset about the try awarded to Stormers full-back Willemse as the home side stretched out into their match-winning lead.

“I thought he was in touch,” said Matson. “Calls like that in big games matter and clearly it made the scoreline widen. You want some calls to go your way and that one didn’t.”

Quins crossed through Alex Dombrandt (two), Andre Esterhuizen and Joe Marchant but the Stormers had just done enough to clinch a quarter-final against either Exeter or Montpellier.




Player of the match Fourie said: “They are a tough side, a quality side, we let it slip a bit at the end but we got the win.

“It is knockout so it doesn’t matter if you win by one or 20, you go through.

“The defence is our foundation, we attack from our defence, except the last 10 minutes but we will look at that and see where we can improve.”


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