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Tuesday 19 September 2017

Connacht scalp mighty Quins

A Mike McCarthy-inspired Connacht left the best to last in the Heineken Cup to forge their first victory in the competition over Premiership leaders Harlequins (9-8) at an ecstatic Sportsground last night.

"We feel like we won the Heineken Cup in there," said Connacht's John Muldoon as they ended a 14-match losing streak.

It certainly set the cat among the pigeons in Pool Six as fellow underdogs Gloucester caused a sensation in bringing Toulouse down 34-24 at Kingsholm.

In the overall scheme of things, Toulouse qualified for the quarter-finals as winners, while Harlequins were left to rue their misfortune to come up against a Connacht bunch that simply would not be denied.

The double shock treatment of the demise of Toulouse and that of Conor O'Shea's Quins in Galway means Irish provincial rivals Ulster are now guaranteed a quarter-final slot as Pool winners.

The question is: can Brian McLaughlin's men get what they need at Clermont-Auvergne to earn a home quarter-final?

Connacht fly-half Niall O'Connor helped his side into an early 9-5 lead. But Nick Evans slotted a penalty to leave a single point in it.

It only seemed a matter of time before Harlequins turned the screw.

They dominated territory but could not alter the scoreboard as the remarkable Mike McCarthy, George Naoupu, John Muldoon, Michael Swift and Ray Ofisa formed an unbreachable barrier to progress.

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