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'People on the outside looking in doubted us and didn't give us a chance'

By PA

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Alex Dombrandt says that Harlequins have no intention of resting on their laurels as Gallagher Premiership champions.

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Quins’ remarkable title triumph came just five months after head of rugby Paul Gustard left the club.

But a free-scoring transformation saw Quins win 13 of their next 18 Premiership games, culminating in an unforgettable 40-38 victory over Exeter at Twickenham.

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Dombrandt and company rattled up 83 points and 13 tries in shunting Premiership heavyweights Bristol and Exeter off track during the league’s knockout phase.

It ended a nine-year wait to be crowned kings of English rugby, condemned Exeter to a fourth Premiership final defeat in six seasons and gloriously showcased new stars like number eight Dombrandt, fly-half Marcus Smith and two-try wing Louis Lynagh.

The game provided a domestic season climax like no other, setting a new aggregate points record for a Premiership final following an epic encounter when the lead changed hands five times.

And at the end of it, Quins could reflect on writing arguably the Premiership’s greatest story as they joined multiple champions Saracens, Leicester, Wasps and Exeter.

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“We will enjoy this, we will review it in the off-season and we will come back with a plan to go back to back,” said Dombrandt, who appears on course to follow Premiership glory by making his England debut in next Sunday’s Test match against the United States.

“The belief in our squad is sky-high. Maybe a lot of people on the outside looking in doubted us and didn’t give us a chance, but I think that galvanised this group.

“We have got a lot of strong characters and great leaders, and we knew if we put a performance in that we were capable of winning it.

“I think it’s clear that Harlequins have the DNA to attack – we love to play with the ball in our hands.

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“Look, I don’t know what wins championships, but whoever scores more points than the other team wins games, and we back ourselves to out-score anyone.”

Quins led by 12 points early in the second half, but after Exeter wiped out that deficit during a devastating five-minute spell, there appeared no way back.

They still trailed just eight minutes from time, and then Lynagh, whose father Michael helped Australia to World Cup final success against England at Twickenham 30 years ago, struck twice with Smith converting both tries from the touchline.

“It was basically just staying calm and sticking to the process,” Dombrandt added.

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“It was about not giving away any cheap penalties or giving them field position to get back up the pitch, and try to squeeze them as much as possible.

“I thought we did that well. Our composure and calmness that we had at the end got us over the line.

“Growing up being a Harlequins supporter, going to watch the games and players like Danny Care, Jordan Turner-Hall and idolising them, and now playing shoulder to shoulder with them, it is special.

“I never ever thought in my wildest dreams I would play for Quins, let alone win the Premiership with them, so it is going to take a while to sink in.

“It’s important you celebrate these times together. We have got a special group, and there is a lot of love for each other in this team and squad – players, staff and everyone.”

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'People on the outside looking in doubted us and didn't give us a chance'

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