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Friday 20 May 2011, Cardiff City Stadium
Harlequins 19 – 18 Stade Francais

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5 reasons why the Quins are Champions

Positivity
One of the key things Conor O’Shea has brought to the club since taking charge is for the players to have confidence in themselves and their team-mates – and to perform for each other. They gained a lot of self-belief from their semi-final win in Munster, took that momentum to Cardiff and believe that there are more trophies to come for this side.

Nick Evans
The former All Black, whose unerring boot made him the second highest scorer in this season’s Challenge Cup, has a knack of scoring the winning points against Stade – a drop-goal proved the difference in 2008 and a conversion five metres from the touchline secured the trophy here. “I think he’s trying to get signed by them,” quipped Quins No 8 Nick Easter.

Youth and Experience
Nine of Quins’ starting XV were 25 or under but they’ve all played plenty of senior rugby so are used to big-match pressure. Then there are the two Nicks, Easter (below) and Evans, who have the experience – at Test and club level – to encourage the youngsters and ensure that heads don’t go down.

Defence
Stade broke the Quins line many a time in Cardiff but Robshaw & Co scrambled quickly to prevent the French crossing the line. Their commitment without the ball is made clear by the fact their line was breached just six times in the pool stages, and in the Premiership they conceded the joint fewest number of tries (26) with Saracens.

…and a bit of luck
Quins didn’t perform well in the second half – but a good break from Joe Marler, a clever grubber by Danny Care and a kind bounce allowed Gonzalo Camacho to score in the 77th minute. Stade had time to hit back but George Clancy refused to let them keep the ball in the scrum as they went for a set-piece penalty – a refereeing error that sent the French side ballistic.

This article appeared in the July 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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