Harlequins U21 side travelled to a wet, muddy and windy Rotherham on Saturday 29th November without several leading academy players, but still managed to come away with a hard fought victory, 21-18. The first half saw the Quins side out-played, despite the forwards establishing some excellent momentum in tight play. The back play was disjointed and somewhat lateral - hardly surprising as this was the first time this combination of players had played together. Added to this was a spirited Rotherham side who stuck to a game plan effectively, repeatedly using the wind and slope to pin the visitors firmly in their half.
Despite being down 0-18 at the interval, Quins didn't give up hope and slowly crept back in to the game, with the forwards continuing the work of the first half in catching and driving, scrummaging powerfully and increasingly taking the attack to Rotherham in the close quarters. As the game reached the closing stages, replacement scrum half Steven Jay was able to capitalise on preceding drives to sneak in for two tries and newcomer Chris Lewis also scored on his debut. As Quins took the lead almost on 80 minutes following an excellent conversion by Tom Williams, the referee seemed determined to give the home side one final chance to edge back in front. Fortunately for Quins, however, their final attacks came to nothing and the long journey home was sweetened by a hard fought victory.
The fact that this game was won without 8 academy players is testament to the hard work and commitment shown by the remaining academy and amateur players. Whilst all of the team should be praised for this victory, Steven Wood, playing out of position in the back row, was highly influential, as were both Mark Lambert and Steven Jay, both of whom appeared from the bench in the second half. The other positive to be taken from this game is that 5 of the squad stepped up from the U19 squad to such good effect.
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.