Harlequin ladies kicked off their season on Sunday (17th August) with a pre-season friendly against local rivals, Teddington Antlers, at Bushy Park. Quins were at a disadvantage from kick-off, having only 13 players on the pitch, but determined from the outset they managed to put the first points on the score sheet with a try from outside centre, Kate Sinfield.
Winger Rachael Bullingham, in her first ever game of Rugby Union, added to Quins' score five minutes later when fly-half Alex Burbage chipped over the defence, taking the score to 0-10.
Quins dominated play for the next 15 minutes with some determined runs, but their lack of experience resulted in too many turnovers. After a number of penetrating attacks, Quins scored again through Alex Burbage. She received a lineout ball, passed to the inside centre, looped around to receive a pass and breaking through the defence was able to stretch for the line whilst looking to off-load in the tackle.
Teddington continued to turnover the ball, but strong tackling, rucking and scrummaging from Quins denied them possession for long periods of play.
Kate Sinfield converted her own try after 25 minutes when she stepped inside the Teddington defence to touch down under the posts. Moments before half-time, Quins' scrum half, Katie Smith was tackled, landing awkwardly and suffered a fractured collarbone.
With Quins now down to 12 players, Teddington, in the true spirit of a friendly dropped a player to reduce their numbers to 14 in order to allow contested scrums to continue.
A few minutes into the second half, Burbage was denied a try when she was judged to have been held-up over the line. The controversial decision gave Teddington the scrum five metres out, but the stronger Quins pack stole the ball and No. 8, Vicky Gallagher, spotted a gap in the defence and picked up from the base of the scrum to score.
The game then seemed to deteriorate and possession switched between the two teams. Quins regrouped and used tactical kicking, including some fantastic place-kicking by Sinfield, to advance up the pitch. The final points came from an Antlers penalty when Gallagher took the line-out ball and a powerful maul allowed prop, Tanya Wilson to go over the line, taking the score to 32-0.
Man of the Match was awarded to Rachael Bullingham who showed incredible promise, good ball skills and a sharp sense of game awareness during her first outing in the famous quarters.
Harlequins Captain, Sam Marshall commented, "This was an encouraging performance, giving us plenty to build on for the coming season. I was extremely impressed by the way all members of the team applied their skill and knowledge despite the two player deficit we faced throughout the game. The result was a credit to all the hard work that has been put in over the summer."
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.