Harlequins director of rugby Paul Gustard hailed Joe Marchant as the best defensive outside centre in the Gallagher Premiership following Monday night’s 28-15 win at Gloucester.

Quins were dominant from the outset in front of 1,000 supporters at Kingsholm and their victory sealed a place in next season’s European Champions Cup.

The win was built on a solid defensive effort and Marchant, who has three England caps, was singled out for praise by his boss.

"A lot of people played well, and I thought Joe Marchant was incredible,” Gustard said.

"His energy in defence was exceptional. For me, he's the best defensive 13 in the league, and that's without talking about his attacking skill-set."

The visitors were set on their way by Marcus Smith, who slotted over three penalties inside the opening 10 minutes.

Cadan Murley then crossed for the evening’s first try, which was followed up by a 50-metre sprint to the line from stand-in captain Stephan Lewies following an interception to stretch the lead.

Quins went into the break 21-3 ahead and Gloucester were first to strike in the second half through Jake Polledri, but the result was put beyond doubt when Marchant intercepted a Danny Cipriani pass and set up Scott Steele for the visitors’ third and final try.

"I felt we had absolute clarity about what we wanted to achieve tonight,” Gustard said.

"We got off to a great start, our kicking game was excellent and our kick-chase game was excellent.”

Captain for the night Lewies added: “Normally I only get to the five-metre line so it was good to get over the line!

“I thought we showed great character in defence. We talked all week about executing our plans and we did just that.”

Quins sit sixth in the table and now turn their attentions to Monday night’s rescheduled Premiership Rugby Cup final against Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.