harlequinsHARLEQUINS have finally got their hands on a trophy, seven years after winning the Parker Pen Trophy they again lifted rugby’s UEFA Cup, the Amlin Challenge Trophy.

They beat Stade Francais 19-18 at the Cardiff City Stadium and few people in the 12,000 could understand how they managed it.

Stade did the job almost perfectly. Trailing 9-6 at half time the Parisians moved into third gear in the second half and took over the game, edging ahead and moving into the final four minutes with an 18-12 lead, that looked like it would be good enough.

But a six-point led always leaves teams vulnerable and Quins mounted a 60 metre move, offloading and getting behind Stade before a piece of genius won the game.

The genius came from England scrum-half Danny Care, who when he got an inch of space slipped the perfect grubber kick to allow Gonzalo Comacho to pounce and score the winning try.

Nick Evans slipped over the conversion from out wide like he was shelling peas and it sparked huge scenes of joy from the 8,000 travelling fans.

No one could suggest it was a great game, as it was a bosh-a-thon for most of the game. In many ways a typical final, tight and settled with one game-changing moment of genius.

Quins kicked too much in the first half and when they were under pressure tried to run it from area they shouldn’t be running it from, so how they were in touch in those final minutes is down to the spirit they have created at the Stoop in recent years.

  • Well done to ERC for their new policy of putting both finals in the same city on the same weekend. In 2012 we presume it will mean a Twickenham and Twickenham Stoop combo, which is a great idea.
  • Defence! The reason why the Quins won was their incredible defence. Even though Stade huffed and puffed they failed to blow down the Quins house. They don’t have the best defence in the Premiership for nothing.
  • Building from within. The Quins have signed one or two players but the core of team have been together for a few years now and the spirit and unity that guys like Evans, Nick Easter, Chris Robshaw and Ugo Monye have allowed them to create an unbreakable line.