Defense concerns as Harlequins advance to playoffs –

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Defense concerns as Harlequins advance to playoffs – fr


London (AFP)

The Harlequins secured their place in the England Premiership play-offs on Saturday but roster coach Jerry Flannery says they either need to tighten up or forget about being crowned champions for the first time since 2012.

The Harlequins’ thrilling 44-33 victory over Bath saw them take fourth and final playoff place with two games of the regular season.

This is the first time in seven years that they have qualified for the play-offs.

They join defending champions Exeter and Sale, the latter sealing their place in the play-offs with an impressive 22-12 win over Bristol already qualified on Friday.

Bath’s fourth straight loss leaves them battling to be in the top eight, which would qualify them for the European Champions Cup next season.

The Harlequins have certainly been profitable hitting six times, including one by veteran scrum half Danny Care.

Former Munster and Ireland hooker Flannery was happy to have a secure play-off spot but didn’t enjoy watching the show.

“I’m glad we got the result and got the top four, but it was hard work to do it,” said Flannery.

“I can’t say it was too enjoyable for me and while I’m sure the supporters and neutrals loved it, I found it quite stressful. “

“There are areas of the game that we have to refine if we are to continue when we enter the semi-finals. “

The 42-year-old Irishman acknowledged that the Harlequins have traditionally played offensive and crowd-pleasing rugby, but he also argued that a little common sense should be made when it comes to defending.

“I have to accept that the Harlequins play rugby a little differently than I’m used to,” he said.

“It’s unconventional and I haven’t been involved in a team that plays like the Harlequins do before.

“It’s not that you give up on your standards, but there has to be a bit of give-and-take because the DNA of this club is offense.

“But we won’t win the championship if we don’t tighten up in defense. “

Sale’s seventh consecutive Premiership victory, a new club record, means they will make the season-ending playoffs for the first time in 15 years, the same year they won the title in 2006.

Rugby sales manager Alex Sanderson said much of the credit for the club’s form is due to the advice injury-plagued England center Manu Tuilagi is giving to young players.

Tuilagi made his first appearance in nearly eight months as a replacement on Friday.

“He’s (Tuilagi) the glue of the team,” Sanderson said.

“He spends more time with younger boys than he does with older boys.

“People are rallying to him because of the guy he is, not just the player. “

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