Tabai Matson: Harlequins coach says he ‘needed to play a full-strength side’

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson revealed after the 47-38 loss to Exeter that he doesn’t regret fielding a full-strength side for the clash, despite losing Aaron Morris.

Quins had nothing to gain from the result as they were locked into third place before referee Ian Tempest’s whistle sounded at Sandy Park, but Matson was still adamant that his first XV needed the game-time after having had extended rest periods due to the European competitions.

Leicester’s win and Saracens‘ loss mean that the Twickenham-based side will make the short journey to StoneX Stadium next week to face Mark McCall’s side.

With a semi-final already in the bag, Harlequins came up short in Devon despite tries from Will Evans, Joe Marchant, Morris, Louis Lynagh, Lewis Gjaltema and Tyrone Green with Morris injuring himself on the way to his five points.

No rest for the wicked

Matson said: “We needed to play a full-strength side as we were not involved in Europe and had only played twice in the last five weeks.

“We were disappointed to lose Aaron Morris with another injury for him, but he’s optimistic that it’s not too serious, although he won’t be available next week so we got through relatively unscathed.

“It was festival rugby, but we learnt a lot defensively as we were really tested by them as they are a phenomenal side who keep possession superbly.

“Our defence was excellent at times and it’s annoying that we didn’t come away with a losing bonus point, but immediately we have to move forward and focus on next week.

“It won’t be festival rugby next week as no doubt there will be a greater emphasis on physicality.”

Exeter will finish seventh in the Premiership table, missing out on the play-offs for the first time since 2015 despite a strong outing versus the post-season-bound Harlequins.

“Today was harum scarum, but even though it was a dead rubber with nothing to play for, I’m really chuffed that we fought right to the end and for once on the right side of the result in a close game to give us some momentum ahead of next season,” said head coach Ali Hepher.

“We had to overcome the bounce of the ball going their way a couple of times and the concession of a few soft tries.

“We’ve had a lot of things thrown at us this season and at times we found it really hard to believe that we were still in the mix.

“With a run of injuries and international call-ups we had to play props and hookers in the back five, which has never happened before.

“You don’t throw away a winning formula that has served us so well in the past six years, but it may need some fine tinkering as we have learnt from this season.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Northampton’s annihilation of Newcastle seals playoff spot

The article Tabai Matson: Harlequins coach says he ‘needed to play a full-strength side’ appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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