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Connacht to come up short against O'Shea's champs

THIS was where the European dream started and ended last season. Connacht came within a whisker of stumping Conor O'Shea's Quins at The Stoop in round one.

THEY had to wait until the last breath of their campaign for their first win in the competition. It came in the howling wind and rain against the soon-to-be Premiership champions at The Sportsground in January.

Since then, O'Shea's Quins have continued on their merry way, going unbeaten in England for the first four rounds before faltering to Saracens at home and Exeter away.

It might just be the reality check Harlequins needed. O'Shea cut a stern figure - for once - at The Stoop last Saturday when he promised a performance in keeping with their reputation.

The director of rugby got exactly that, blowing Biarritz Olympique off the park 40-13 to suddenly recapture the high tempo and uncompromising combat at close quarters that can make them hell on earth to deal with.

Connacht have been able to sign a number of quality acquisitions, namely former Leinster prop Nathan White at tight-head and Scotland points machine Dan Parks at fly-half in front of a real rising star of Irish rugby -19-year-old Robbie Henshaw.

Connacht v Harlequins, The Sportsground, tomorrow 8.0 (live Sky Sports 1)

Verdict: Harlequins