Harlequins’ Aviva Premiership title defence took another hit on Friday night as Bath got the better of them at the Rec, but director of rugby Conor O’Shea insists they are far from sunk.
Stephen Donald won the battle of the boot with fellow New Zealander Nick Evans in, landing seven kicks to the Quins fly-half’s six for the 21-18 victory.
This was Quins’ third victory in their opening nine Premiership matches this campaign, a far cry from last season when they racked up ten straight victories to open the season on their way to collecting the trophy.
But O’Shea is refusing to panic just yet, although he admits his side will have to improve their discipline going forward.
"It's going to be a roller coaster of a season,” he said.
“We just have to stick to our guns the whole way through. The younger fellows who played at the Rec will have learned a lot.
"The effort, the attitude of the boys was fantastic, right to the bitter end. But we have to look at ourselves.
“Every time we got field position and got points, we never dealt with the kick-off.
"And the number of penalties they got through our inaccuracy, clearing our lines, was just not good enough.
“But it's a 22-game battle. We got a point, should have been more, but all credit to them."
Quins began brightly at the Rec and Evans kicked his side ahead, but Donald levelled shortly after.
Centre Matt Banahan then charged down Quins full-back Tom Williams’ kick and a try looked certain, however his pass was spilled by midfield partner Semesa Rokoduguni on his Premiership debut and the chance had gone.
And the Fijian was made to pay for his mishandling as Evans kicked
Harlequins back in front, although Donald replied with two penalties of his own to give the hosts the narrow lead at half-time.
The second half followed a familiar pattern and every time Evans levelled, Donald responded and was able to put his side 21-15 up with just seven minutes left.
Evans pulled one back, but Bath stood firm in the closing stages, and first-team coach Toby Booth believes the future at the Rec is a bright one.
"This is the rebirth of the new Bath and what we are trying to get to,” he said.
"That should be the standard every week. Part of the evolution of this team is understanding that.
“We're down at Welford Road next week against Leicester, the side that everyone aspires to be. We are going to be tested even further.
"Everyone knows what a good side Leicester are – they're an outstanding side, well coached, well drilled.
“We are going to have to produce things like we did tonight to give ourselves the best opportunity."
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