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Why Harlequins loss to Bath 'hurts more'

By PA
Marcus Smith - PA

Tabai Matson admitted that Harlequins’ defence was catastrophic as they slumped to a 45-35 defeat against Bath at Twickenham.

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Northampton Saints’ victory on Friday night at Newcastle had already ended any hopes of making the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals, but in the Twickenham sunshine, Matson wanted more from his team, who conceded six tries in all.

Max Ojomoh’s effort finally wrapped up the win for Bath, with the Quins head coach disappointed at closing out the home season in such a fashion.

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He said: “I don’t want to take anything away from them. They scored six tries, that’s probably the big lesson for us, six tries and 45 points in your home game is a bit of a catastrophe.

“They took their opportunities, we gave them some opportunities and they took them quite convincingly. I think it hurts more because it was our last home game and it’s a bit of a marquee event, so it’s gutting.

“I think we hung in there enough [having 13 men for 10 minutes] and we got a bit of momentum in the second half, but things we said we’d try not to do, scrum penalty into a maul penalty into defending our try line, that’s their bread and butter and they took those opportunities and punished us for them.

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“Although the game was entertaining, we wanted to take it to another level, and we couldn’t do that.”

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Bath, meanwhile, are finishing the season in flying form, having now won three in a row as they look to earn Heineken Champions Cup rugby next season.

And director of rugby Johann van Graan was impressed by the way his team stuck to their guns against free-flowing Quins.

He said: “That was satisfying, it was a top game of rugby. Credit to Harlequins, they stretched us a few times, it was like four points and if they score one more who knows what happens, but credit to our team, we stuck at it.

“We prepped for an 80-minute game, we respect Quins and what they’ve done so much and we acknowledged in the week that there might be purple patches from their side and I think the thing that I’m proudest about is the fact we stuck to our game, we scored tries in different ways, we reacted to pressure, I think we reacted to the referee very well on both sides of the ball.

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“I’ll say that all 23 guys were special and the whole group in the way that we prepared for this game. For this playing group and this group of people, what a fascinating memory we’ll have in the coming years about today.”

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