Cell C Sharks director of rugby Neil Powell says his side took their game up a level to beat Harlequins in the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday.

The home side triumphed 39-31 in Durban on their debut in EPCR’s elite competition, following up on a 25-10 success over Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship (URC) last weekend.

Powell says the win over Quins featured an improvement from his team, and underlined how important it was to capitalise on home advantage and kick off their campaign with a bonus-point success.

“With only four pool games, it’s important to get the positive result, especially in your home games,” he said.

“If you slip up here [at home] it will be tough to get into the knockout stage of the Heineken Champions Cup.

“The positive result was really important and I think performance wise it was a massive step up from last weekend against the Ospreys.

“We believed that if the performance is good then the result will come.”

Cell C Sharks were clinging on somewhat in the closing stages as Quins threatened an unlikely comeback, with a red card for prop Ox Nché on 59 minutes providing the visitors with a route back into the game.

And as hooker Bongi Mbonambi was sin-binned two minutes prior to that, the hosts were down to 13 men momentarily, and Powell says they cannot afford such ill-discipline when they visit Union Bordeaux-Bègles in Round 2.

“We controlled the game nicely in the first half,” he highlighted. “Unfortunately, the red and yellow cards in the second half put us under pressure.

“Having one player less on the field is obviously going to make it challenging.

“You need to be creative and think about how you want to defend against a team that is so accurate in attack from scrums when you are one guy less.

“If you have two players less it becomes tricky because there is either going to be space out wide or in the backfield.

“Even in the first half, we were not as disciplined as we would like to be. Hopefully, we can be more disciplined when we get into the next game against Bordeaux away.”