La Rochelle may have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup at the first attempt, but their double World Cup-winning back row man Victor Vito says they still have a lot to learn and work on.
Their 16-7 home win over Harlequins was good enough to help them win Pool One – but they fell short of the bonus-point triumph they required to shoot for a home quarter-final.
Instead they will have to visit Parc Y Scarlets to take on the Guinness PRO12 champions, Scarlets.
La Rochelle’s New Zealand international Vito said: “We are pretty happy to be in the quarter-finals after what happened in our last two games in the Champions Cup. We didn’t play that well in those two games.
“In difficult conditions it was good to grind out a win rather than score tries helter-skelter and hold on from there. We were still chasing more tries in the last few minutes, but it was just good to win.
“We had thought about what might happen if we got a bonus point, but you can’t disrespect the opposition.
“Harlequins didn’t come here to give us an easy ride and they wanted to win, so we will take it.
“I’m really pleased for the boys but there is so much work to do. We will take our learnings from this game and go back to the drawing board in the TOP 14.”
La Rochelle’s English outside-half Ryan Lamb missed the game, but hopes to be back in contention when the quarter-finals come round at the end of March.
Lamb, a Challenge Cup winner with Gloucester in 2006, said: “Everything was riding on this game for the rest of the season.
“These are exciting times at the club and it is really good fun.
“We all have the same mindset and pass the ball out of contact. There isn’t really a Plan B.”
Quins’ director of rugby John Kingston was full of pride for the way his side played.
He said: “We showed desire as a group and gave 100% against a formidable side that has won nine straight at home and average 41 points. By the end, we had battered them into respecting us.
“If you have desire, passion and togetherness you can go a long, long way. Everyone out there gave everything they had to give and it is pulling them tighter, which is great to see.”