Five minutes of madness, that was what cost us a home win against Sale last weekend.
One dropped ball, one missed tackle and we had gifted Sale Sharks fourteen points, and in the Zurich Premiership you cannot give away such easy points and then expect to win!
It is very easy to sit there and say that Sale were the better team on the day, but the video evidence shows this not necessarily to be the case. Having said that, we lost a second home game and that is simply not good enough!
Yes there are still areas of our game that we need to work on. Our line out was much better than the previous week against Gloucester after a nervous opening twenty minutes, but is still not as good as it has been in previous weeks. Particular credit should go here to Jim Hayter who played the entire game in tremendous pain suffering with a calf injury. Our ball retention was also better, although we still made too many errors in the 'red zone.'
This Friday evening we face Leeds Tykes in the first of three games against the Tykes over the next five weeks, and we have some very positive news in terms of selection. Back from injury this week and available to face Leeds are Ace Tiatia, Ugo Monye, Josh Taumalolo, Chris Bell and Karl Rudzki, while both George Harder and Tani Fuga could be back within the next two weeks. The only other injury from last weekend was suffered by Paul Burke who took a kick to the calf, and is not likely to be 100% fit for Friday night's game.
The only long term injury we have at present is our second row Simon Miall. We have made enquiries with regard to finding a possible replacement for Simon as in the ideal world we would have four second rows available at all times, but at the risk of repeating myself, I have explained before that we have both wage cap regulations and internal budgets that we have to operate within.
In terms of the wage cap we can register a squad of 33 and presently we have 32 listed with the wage cap authorities, so there is the possibility of bringing one more player into the squad. However, our budget is not a bottomless pit, and unless the right player was to become available then the money is not!
Last Monday our second XV maintained their 100% record with a 43 points to 7 win over Northampton at the Stoop, including a try from Chris Bell who completed a successful return from his two month lay off and a hat trick from academy full back Tom Williams. The second XV's next game is at home to Cambridge University on Tuesday 11th November.
On Wednesday afternoon the entire squad were involved in coaching either with the Mighty Quins training day at the Stoop, or with our schoolboy academy players at Aldershot. Both sessions went very well, and proved very enjoyable both for the kids and the NEC Harlequins squad.
Congratulations are also in order to Jason Leonard and his partner Sandra following the birth of their third child Francesca Belle. We wish them all the very best from everyone involved with NEC Harlequins.
Now we return our focus to Friday evening, and the importance of gaining a result against Leeds Tykes if we are to maintain our challenge for a Heineken Cup qualification for next season. The squad will be traveling up to Yorkshire on Thursday afternoon, and will complete their final preparations on Friday morning. It is an important game for us and Leeds offer us a very difficult challenge in front of their own supporters.
To those of you traveling to Leeds, thank you. We all look forward to hearing your support on Friday evening.
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.