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'We said we wanted a crack at Europe. We were lucky, we left a lot out there'

By PA
Castres' Fijian wing Filipo Nakosi (2ndR) tackles Harlequins' Australian fullback Louis Lynagh (Photo by Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP) (Photo by VALENTINE CHAPUIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Harlequins’ scrum coach Adam Jones said his ‘lucky’ team were happier with the result than the performance after opening their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a win.

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The Gallagher Premiership champions scored a hard-fought 20-18 win against Castres, despite a late fightback from their Top 14 opponents.

Jones said: “We knew we’d played badly, but we still came out here and won.

“We said we wanted a crack at Europe. We were lucky – we left a lot out there, certainly in the first 20-25 minutes. It was classic us, really. We didn’t play well and let them back into the game.”

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After a simmering opening period had ended 11-7 in the hosts’ favour, the London side looked to have the game in the bag early in the second half when Alex Dombrandt powered over from 20 metres to take the visitors into a six-point lead.

When Marcus Smith kicked a penalty with seven minutes remaining, the result seemed a foregone conclusion.

However, Castres’ winger Martin Laveau burst away from a crabbing maul at the restart to score under the posts and set-up a tense finish.

Jones continued: “Result-wise it was good. There was a couple of times we probably could have finished them off – but coming away to a good side like Castres, it’s tough.

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“We’re happy with the result rather than the performance, really.”

Quins’ willingness to attack early on – Smith rejected three early relatively straightforward shots at goal for kicks to touch in the opening exchanges – was routine club policy rather than a specific gameplan,

Jones explained: “It was something we hung our hat on last year towards the end of last season.

“It obviously didn’t transfer tonight, but it’s a massive part of our club, being positive and wanting to play rather than taking points.

“We thought, first half, if we could get a try we’d get another and we’d be able to pull away a bit.

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“To be fair, they were pretty resolute and defended well. And we blew a few chances early doors.”

Jones was particularly impressed with the performance of the pack, who had the beating of the hosts in the scrum.

He added: “We had a plan, and we thought we could get a bit of joy in scrumming against them.

“I think we had three penalties on their ball and put a bit of pressure on them. We’re pretty pleased with that – it was a foothold into the game if we needed points or field position.”

Quins now have six days to prepare for their second European pool match against Cardiff at The Stoop on Saturday afternoon.

“There’s things to work on,” Jones said. “It will be a different challenge next week against Cardiff – however they’re going with injuries and Covid – that will be another difficult test.

“We’ll have a look at [the game] on the flight home and get ready for next week.”

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
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If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
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