Harlequins defensive coach Jerry Flannery believes his side can put last week’s heart wrenching defeat to Bristol Bears behind them when they face Ulster in the European Challenge Cup this weekend. 

Quins welcome the Belfast-based side to Twickenham Stoop looking to progress to the quarter-final stage of the competition for the second time in three years, having reached the semi-final stage back in 2019. 

And they go into the encounter ready to right the wrongs of last weekend, as Kyle Sinckler’s late converted try saw the Gallagher Premiership-leading Bears steal a 35-33 victory after the hooter at Ashton Gate, leaving the visitors deflated as the final whistle blew. 

But Flannery knows his side have the character to respond to that cruel defeat, just as they did after going down 21-20 to Exeter Chiefs earlier in the month where they responded with a nine-try victory over Gloucester in their next outing. 

“It was a tough loss to take at the final whistle in Bristol last weekend, but we were pretty fast in getting some perspective on that loss and the defeat earlier last month against Exeter,” Flannery said. 

“We’ve lost two games against the top two sides in what is a tough, attritional league by fine margins.

“In reality, those two sides are probably further along their journey than we are, and we've come a long way in a short space of time.

Quins will welcome back a number of players for the European clash, with James Lang and Scott Steele returning after international duty with Scotland, while Elia Elia and Santiago Garcia Botta also return to the side.  

Will Collier, Nathan Earle, and Paul Lasike are also back in the starting XV following injuries earlier in the season, while Tom Lawday captains the side for the continental affair. 

George Hammond earns his first start at lock alongside Hugh Tizard this weekend, while Jack Kenningham will start at openside flanker in a much-changed Quins outfit that sees Brett Herron get his first start of the season at fly-half. 

But despite naming a team absent of key protagonists such as Marcus Smith and Danny Care, Flannery is adamant Quins are more than up for the challenge of progressing against the Irish side on Sunday evening. 

“With the Pro14 playoffs decided earlier than they usually would be, we know that Ulster will be throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us this week. We know they have some real game-changers, and we’ll be ready to face them,” he said. 

“We have some incredibly skilled players ourselves this week and will be looking to continue our fine attacking form.”