I have to say that after the huge disappointment of our dreadful second half performance against Newcastle Falcons last weekend (1st February 2003), it was an absolute pleasure to watch the commitment and enthusiasm that the team showed on Tuesday evening (4th February 2003) in losing narrowly to the Sharks from South Africa.
We can't hide from the fact that the second half performance against Newcastle was unacceptable. Quite why it happened after such a good effort playing into the wind in the first half is something of a mystery to us all. In those second 40 minutes, the players let Mark Evans down, they let themselves down and they let our supporters down, many of whom had horrendous difficulties getting to Newcastle on Saturday, as we did on Friday, due to the weather.
Despite checking with British Airways at least five times on Friday that our flight was okay, we were advised at approximately 1.30pm that the flight was cancelled. With the trains disrupted, this meant that the team had to travel to Newcastle by coach - finally arriving at the hotel at 11.15 in the evening. Not ideal, but no excuse for what followed the following day.
This weekend (8th February 2003) we face the Sharks in the Zurich Premiership at the Stoop. I have said before that the competition in the Premiership is very strong; there is no respite and we will have to perform significantly better this weekend if we are to come away with the points.
One of the frustrations of this season has been our injury list. On Tuesday evening, we had 17 players unavailable for selection out of a squad of 34. Six were on international duty, eight were injured and likely to be unavailable for this weekend and three others were carrying knocks from last weekend.
This does make it very difficult for the coaching staff to work on games plans and technique when many of the players they want in the team each week are unavailable. The team to play on Saturday will be announced on Friday afternoon. Having played two games earlier in the week, today is a rest day before tomorrow's final training session in preparation for Saturday.
Understandably, there has been much criticism of the performance last weekend. Some of it is very well considered, other perhaps too personal to be of any real value. It is now up to us to show everyone again that we can perform and that we can give our supporters a team to be proud of.
Of course everyone involved with NEC Harlequins was disappointed after last Saturday, and a lot of hard work has gone into ensuring that something like that does not happen again. However, we are at home this weekend and we must take advantage of that, in what is bound to be a fierce contest.
There is still much to play for, with play-off places up for grabs. Yes, we have to sort out this ridiculous issue of our away form with games coming up against Bristol and London Irish in March, but this weekend we need to perform in front of our home supporters and again move ourselves up towards the middle of the table.
It is a big game for us on Saturday - they always are - and all the players and coaching staff are looking forward to seeing you all at the Stoop.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.