Harlequins head coach Paul Gustard believes his side showed real character to claim a 34-24 victory over Gloucester on Sunday, despite playing with 13-men for some of the second-half at Kingsholm.  

A red card for Andre Esterhuizen four minutes after the break saw Quins having to play for over half an hour with a man light, before Glen Young was sent to the sin bin three minutes later.  

But the visitors held firm despite being at a two-man advantage, as they held onto their 17-10 halftime advantage, before adding 17 more points later in the game to secure back-to-back away victories.  

And Gustard was delighted with his side’s performance in both halves against the Cherry and Whites, who stood firm for much of the 80 minutes despite the hosts’ pressure on their try line. 

"Sometimes it's initially harder to play against 13 men as it takes time to work what adjustments the other team have made in terms of defence,” Gustard said. 

“The first-half was really pleasing, it gave us the bedrock for the victory. Second-half we didn’t start how we spoke about at half-time.  

“We had to deal with the adversity, and have the resilience we needed to come through when we were down to 13 men was outstanding.” 

Stand-in skipper Alex Dombrandt got Quins off to the perfect start on Sunday, as the No.8 touched down within three minutes to give his side an early lead to protect, as he carved through the home defence with ease. 

Billy Twelvetrees and Marcus Smith then traded penalties, before Ed Slater went over in the corner with 25 minutes played to bring the hosts level. 

And just as it looked like the two sides would head into the dressing rooms all square, James Chisholm was the man to touch down after a powerful surge after the buzzer.  

Things looked to have taken a turn for the worse for Gustard’s men early in the second-half, as Esterhuizen was adjudged to have thrown an elbow on Gloucester fly-half Lloyd Evans. 

But the visitors dealt admirably with the adversity, and scored a delightful try to extend their lead, as Nathan Earle latched onto a Marcus Smith kick, despite looking ominously offside when the fly-half put boot to ball.  

Dombrandt then secured the bonus-point on the hour mark, as the hosts failed to deal with the aerial ball, before two late maul-tries saw the hosts set up an interesting final few minutes, as Quins held on for a priceless win on the road.  

And Gustard was keen to pick out his half-back pairing for special praise after the victory, with the combination of Smith and Danny Care proving pivotal in protecting the lead despite the man disadvantage.  

“To manage the field the way that Danny and Marcus did, I thought both the half-backs were exceptional, and we managed to spend enough time down in their third,” Gustard said. 

“We’ve got nine players that are under 23, so it’s important that you keep developing players, because there’s always a natural evolution of rugby. 

“But you also need the experienced players that have been there, seen it, done it, worn the t-shirt, I thought yet again today Danny was exceptional. 

“He has always been revered for the last 15 years, and rightly so, as the best running half-back in England, but that’s probably doing him a huge disservice to the quality of his kicking game.  

“I’m really pleased with his performance, and I’m really pleased with the development of Marcus Smith outside as well.”