Harlequins No.8 Alex Dombrandt says the team enjoyed their time in Durban despite their opening Heineken Champions Cup game ending in defeat to Cell C Sharks on Saturday.

The Gallagher Premiership side played away in South Africa for the first time in EPCR’s elite competition and were edged out 39-31 by their hosts in a thrilling 10-try contest at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.

Even though their efforts on the pitch ended in disappointment, Dombrandt said Quins appreciated visiting a new city as well as the significantly warmer climate in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Firstly, it has been a great week in South Africa,” he said after the game. “It has been great for us to have a mix-up and spend a week in Durban.

“Obviously, 30-degree [Celsius] heat makes a change from the minus score back home, which has been nice.”

Dombrandt went on to discuss Quins’ defeat, admitting that they fully anticipated the quality of their opponents and that there is some regret his side couldn’t complete an improbable second-half turnaround.

“They sprung no surprises on us,” he stated. “We knew they were going to be a physical team.

“They were lucky with being able to bring back their Springboks, so we knew it was going to be a tough challenge.

“They are a classy outfit, and it was probably quite frustrating and an opportunity to win was missed.”

Quins head coach Tabai Matson felt his team’s ill-discipline contributed to their downfall, and that they had enough chances to snatch victory from the Round 1 clash.

“The word ‘soft’ is probably a bit harsh but often it was either multiple penalties or errors that gave them really easy opportunities and good teams take them,” he said.

“I think we are all really frustrated because it was an opportunity missed. We missed opportunities to play our game, so it will be a frustrating one to debrief.”