Harlequins forwards coach Adam Jones insisted there were plenty of positives to take out of their latest Gallagher Premiership outing, despite Callum Sheedy’s conversion with the last kick of the game spelling a last-ditch defeat at league leaders Bristol Bears. 

In-form Quins went into the break at Ashton Gate four points down despite scoring through a penalty try and a Danny Care touchdown, but they reversed the deficit in the second half and looked set to spring an upset on the hosts. 

A drop goal from Care, a Joe Marchant try and a late Marcus Smith penalty seemingly put the west Londoners on the cusp of victory, only for Kyle Sinckler’s converted score to deny them at the death. 

But while Jones acknowledged the disappointment among the Quins camp, the former Wales and British & Irish Lions star was encouraged with how his team went toe-to-toe with the Premiership pace setters, on their own turf. 

He said: “We weren’t even considering that they might come back with 73 or 74 minutes gone, but they’re the best team in the league for a reason and that’s what they can do. 

“Everyone’s gutted to have ended up on the losing side, but we’ve pushed the best team in the league until the last kick of the game. As a coaching group we couldn’t be prouder. 

“The aim is to be competing with these sorts of teams, and we are. We’ll keep working hard and we’ll go again against Bristol when we come up against them next time.”

A narrow defeat in the West Country was the latest encouraging display from the 2011/12 English champions since Jones took on the temporary coaching reins alongside Billy Millard, Nick Evans, and Jerry Flannery, following Paul Gustard’s January departure. 

Quins sit fourth in the table after six wins in their last nine games, and Jones is confident they can secure a semi-final spot back on domestic duty following their home clash against Ulster in the European Challenge Cup next time out. 

He added: “We’ve made some big strides over the last eight weeks. It’s tough when there are changes during the season. The way they reacted and how they’ve trained and played is testament to how much of a good group of boys they are. 

“We just want to crack on and prepare for the next batch of games, and we’ll go from there.”