After the disappointment of last Sunday's performance against Saracens I think it is fair to say that everyone involved with the team is keen to get back on to the playing field.
At Saracens we lost because of two main factors, far too many individual errors and a lack of intensity in our defence. In any game of rugby you have to expect that for 50% of the game you will not have the ball, and it is very important at that time you work very hard, not only to get it back, but also to stop your opposition playing. Last Sunday we did not work hard enough in this aspect of our play.
So on Saturday afternoon we face Newcastle Falcons, who will be brimming with confidence after a very good win against Gloucester at Kingston Park. Apart from Ben Gollings at full back who we all know very well, there are many other fine players in their squad. In the forwards Mark Andrews and Garath Archer make a competitive second row pairing with Joe Dunbar and Huw VyVan in the back row. At scrum half Hall Charlton is playing very well, while the returning Dave Walder should be able to provide plenty of ball for the excellent backline to create problems for our defence.
Our own team will show just one change to the starting XV with Laurent Gomez coming in for Jon Dawson at tight head prop.
On Monday evening Mark Evans and I accompanied Ace Tiatia to his Citing hearing called by the RFU's independent Citing Officer after the London Irish game. After a very fair hearing we were delighted that Ace was cleared of the charge and is available to play this weekend. This incident gained a lot of publicity both in the press and amongst our own supporters, a lot of which was factually incorrect. As I said last week, Ace has missed just one Zurich Premiership game due to suspension in the two and half years he has been with NEC Harlequins. He is a physical player, one of the many attributes he brings to our team, and within the laws of the game we will continue to encourage him to be so.
Also on Monday evening our 2nd XV beat London Irish 31-7. There were fine performances from many of the team including Mike Worsley, Laurent Gomez, Roy Winters, Luke Sherriff, Kai Horstmann, Simon Keogh, Andy Dunne and Tom Williams.
The players have had three days off this week to recharge their batteries. We all know that with this the first of three consecutive homes games (Gloucester and Sale to come) there is a huge opportunity for us, one that we must take if we are to build on the solid start we have made to the season. As ever your support will be important in helping the team achieve their aim - a win.
Look forward to seeing you all at the Stoop on Saturday.
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.