After Saturday's decisive win over Cetransa El Salvador in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup we have been drawn to play French side Montauban in the second round of the competition. The confirmed fixtures are as follows:
Saturday 10 January 2004, Away to Montauban - Kick off 7.30pm
Saturday 17 January 2004, Home to Montauban - Kick off 3.00pm
The winners of this second round game will play either Brive or Castres in the quarter finals, both teams we have faced in recent seasons in European competition.
Cetransa proved difficult opponents on Saturday, hence a score of just 5 points to 3 after the first thirty minutes, but it was good to see the team run in eleven tries by the end of the game, and we wish Cetransa every success in the Parker Pen Shield which they will now enter.
On Monday evening our second team played their first game in the Zurich Premiership A League and went down 28 points to 10 at Gloucester. With seven of the team having played just forty eight hours earlier against Cetransa it was a tremendous effort, although disappointing for the Second XV to lose their first game of the season in their first league game. There is an early opportunity for the Seconds to get back to winning ways next Monday evening (22nd Dec) when they face Saracens at The Stoop - Kick off 7.30pm.
On Friday evening we return to Zurich Premiership action and despite the successful return to action last weekend of George Harder we still have one or two injury concerns. Paul Burke is still struggling with the rib injury he picked up against Bath on 21 November and is out of this Friday's game. Mike Worsley withdrew from this weekends England squad due to a back injury and is also unavailable, and Ugo Monye has returned from his England sevens trip to Dubai and South Africa with a hamstring/back injury and is unlikely to be fit for Friday evening.
All the clubs agreed that they would have three representatives in the England Vs New Zealand Barbarians teams this weekend, and we will therefore be missing Pat Sanderson, Ace Tiatia and Ben Willis, while Sale are without Charlie Hodgson, Jason Robinson and Andrew Sheridan.
Last Saturday was a tremendous event at The Stoop. To have a sell out crowd for such a game was fantastic, and the atmosphere before and after the game was tremendous. However, now we face four tough away games in a row, Sale this Friday evening, followed by Gloucester, Newcastle and Montauban. It is not the make and break of our season, but it could be the make, if we were to pick up four points at each of these Premiership games.
Friday we will be a tough game, Sale are a very aggressive and talented team, but we are looking forward to the challenge.
I appreciate that Friday night games up north are not easy for many of you to get to, but those supporters who do travel to Stockport this weekend, I hope we will do you proud.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.