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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sports News: Quins chief hails Clegg 'bottle'

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea praised Rory Clegg's "bottle" after the fly-half landed a late penalty to earn an 11-9 Aviva Premiership win at Exeter Chiefs.

The England Saxon, who had missed 14 points with the boot during the game, got the Premiership leaders back to winning ways with a late 30-metre kick from out wide.

O'Shea said: "Rory Clegg showed incredible bottle and you have to separate things with a fly-half - his general play bar one or two touch kicks, the way that he marshalled the team and got a pattern going was magnificent."

He added: "He is an 80%-plus goal kicker - he wasn't today, you have those days. His fault will be that he took on two early kicks into a diagonal breeze which he probably shouldn't have but he showed incredible bottle to land a really difficult kick."

Quins had a narrow 8-6 interval lead thanks to a try from scrum-half Danny Care, after he took a quick tap penalty, and a penalty on the stroke of half-time from Clegg, with the Chiefs replying through two penalties from fly-half Ignacio Mieres.

The scores remained unchanged until six minutes from time when replacement fly-half Gareth Steenson looked to have sealed the game for the Chiefs with a 40-metre penalty.

Clegg soaked up the pressure and coolly slotted his crucial kick between the uprights but Exeter kept battling away and Steenson could have snatched victory, only for his 30-metre drop-goal attempt to sail wide.

O'Shea said: "Four days after our last game, I thought we played with incredible ambition, some good line breaks and off-loading, and I thought that we should have won the game quite comfortably.

"But they stayed in the game and we knew they would looking at their record of coming back in the second half - look what they did against Sale and the Dragons - but I thought we played some magnificent rugby.

"But I credit the guys; to give away a penalty to put them into the lead with six minutes to go (and come back), these are the wins. This is a tough place to come; I was not expecting it to be easy and it wasn't."

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