Paul Gustard singled out Alex Dombrandt for special praise after the back-rower returned from injury to lift Harlequins to a nail-biting win over Gloucester on Sunday at the Stoop.

Dombrandt returned for an injury-hit Quins side at No.8 and crossed for what proved to be the pivotal second-half score in a topsy-turvy game in south west London.

The 22-year-old was a late call-up to England’s World Cup training squad before missing out on the trip to Japan.

But after a two-try outing in an uncapped international against the Barbarians in the summer and the man of the match award here, his form is becoming hard to ignore.

As his head of rugby Gustard admitted afterwards: “Having lost (Joe) Marchant and (Nathan) Earle to long-term injury, he was one of our top try scorers last season so it’s critical that he keeps that form going.

“I just want him to enjoy his rugby and in reality, he is 18 months into his career, we don’t want to over coach him, we need to improve aspects of his game but we want him to express himself.

“He is coming out of his shell more and more, at heart he is a Harlequins fan, he was brought up around the corner, has a good personality but is a level-headed kid.

“It hasn’t gone to his head; he’s trained hard and big player for us because he gets points, he gets line breaks, he gets momentum and I thought the back row in general were excellent tonight.”

Victory for Quins was only their second of the league season.

But after a hard-fought European win over Bath the week before, momentum seems to be returning for the London club.

However, with Mike Brown potentially out for the rest of the season and Scott Baldwin also joining a lengthening injury list, Gustard knows that his side’s reserves are going to be tested.

He added: “The result was more important than performance.”

“They’re the best set-piece attacking team in the league and I thought we neutralised that really well so that was good to see.”

“They are coming off the back of four losses in a row and it was tough so the league is so competitive and you’ve got to keep trying to stay within the fight as much as possible, but the team believe in each other.

“We’ve got a big injury list so we are testing the strength of our squad and the reserves today did really well.”