There was an air of disappointment on the coach as we returned from Gwent (or was it Newport?) on Monday evening. Yes, we had beaten the Newport Gwent Dragons 24-12, but the players and management alike were unhappy with our performance, particularly in the first half.
The positives were that we defended well again and did not concede a try. Our set piece, apart from a ten minute spell in the first half, was good and in the second half we dominated the game.
However, there were far too many negatives. We gave away too many penalties, did not look after the ball well in the first half (although in truth we did not see much of it)
and we picked up two injuries to our centres Chris Bell and Mel Deane. Chris has damaged ankle ligaments, but it is too early to assess how long he will be out for as the swelling is preventing any accurate diagnosis, while Mel has torn a hamstring and is likely to be out of action at least until the end of September.
This Friday we have effectively our second XV, with a few exceptions, in action against London Welsh at the Stoop as part of our season ticket barbecue (kick-off 8.00pm). This will be our first game at home this season, followed by Saracens next Friday evening (5th September) in our final pre-season fixture. Action commences in the Zurich Premiership against London Wasps on the 13th September.
This Friday we should see the return to action of both Scott Bemand and Ace Tiatia following their respective shoulder operations. Also starting will be a number of youngsters such as Andy Reay, Tom Allen, Tom Williams, Chris Cracknell and Tom Parker, all of whom will be looking to impress the coaching team, alongside a few of the senior squad such as Matt Moore, Ceri Jones, Mike Worsley and Luke Sherriff.
The only players unavailable for this game were Karl Rudzki, Tani Fuga and Henry Barrett, although both Tani and Henry should be fit for mid-September, Karl may take a little longer.
Away from NEC Harlequins, preparations for the Rugby World Cup continue unabated. After England's decisive win over Wales last weekend at the Millennium Stadium, they take on an altogether much harder task in Marseilles this Saturday where they face a strong French team. France has never lost in Marseilles where they often play South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, which gives you some idea of the task ahead for England.
We are all looking forward to returning to the Stoop for Friday's game, and I hope that you will all come along and support the team both this Friday and next week when we face Saracens.
Look forward to seeing you all at the Season Ticket Barbeque - tickets cost £5 on the gate from 7.30pm.
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.