After all the good efforts of the staff at the Stoop to lay on such an enjoyable day last Saturday, our performance against Gloucester was extremely disappointing. To lose 16 - 0 at home is never going to be acceptable, but to perform so poorly, in what was in truth a very poor game, was as frustrating for everyone involved with the team, as I am sure it was for you.
So where did we go wrong? In the first half we had nine penalties given against us, including five infringements at the scrum, where up to now we have not had any problems. In addition to this our line out did not function at all. We may have been disrupted by the early injury to Tani Fuga, but that does not excuse the lack of ball we were able to win from our own lineouts, never mind the lack of pressure that we were able to exert on Gloucester's ball. The old adage that the game is won and lost up front was never so true!
In the modern game if you cannot look after your own ball and you allow the opposition the advantage of the territory gained from so many penalty kicks, then you will always be under pressure. This was reflected both in the result, but perhaps more pertinently in our performance. It will come as no surprise that an enormous amount of hard work and soul searching has taken place at the training ground this week.
With the loss of Tani Fuga for something like eight weeks with knee ligament damage, this week will see James Hayter start in the No. 2 shirt, while academy player Cameron Dott will make his first appearance in the 1st team squad and fill the vacant hooker position on the bench.
Ace Tiatia is progressing well following his calf injury and has been seen running around the training pitches in the last few days. It is hoped that he, along with George Harder will be back in action soon. More immediately, Monday night will see the return to action of both Chris Bell and Karl Rudzki. They are both starting in the 2nd XV game against Northampton on Monday evening - kick off 7.30pm at the Stoop.
Away from the Club I am sure we were all delighted to see England's win over South Africa last weekend in the Rugby World Cup. On the back of this came the news that Will Greenwood had flown home to be with his wife Caro who had been admitted to hospital during her pregnancy. On behalf of everyone involved at and with NEC Harlequins I would like to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to them both at what must be a very difficult time for them.
So to Saturday, and the challenge of Sale Sharks.
It will be a very difficult game; they all are in the Zurich Premiership. No one here needs telling that we have to make a dramatic improvement from last weekend if we are to come away with the four points. We know that we gave our supporters little to cheer about last weekend, the plan is that this will not be the case this Saturday afternoon 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.