"As with all pre-season games the result is not that important, and with both teams fielding as many as 25 players it will be difficult at times to compare the two team's performances. However, it will give us a good indication on what we are doing well and what areas we still have to work on before 3rd September."
Well perhaps I did not explain myself very well, but the purpose of the first pre-season fixture is to give the coaches a benchmark of where we are in terms of our pre-season training. There were no prizes available for a win last week and indeed a comprehensive victory can sometimes mask some areas where further work is required.
What last Friday's (12th August) game against London Irish showed us is that we do need to increase our intensity and work rate on the pitch, particularly around the tackle area and that there is still some work to do at the set-piece and in our set plays.
The intensity was disappointing, but we were aware before the game that we had not done much work on our defensive lineout systems or on our set plays, as a number of the players had not arrived at training until late July / early August and because a number of them had been taking part in sevens training.
This Saturday (20th August) we travel to Bristol for our second pre-season match and we will be taking with us a squad of 28 players for a game that will be played over four periods of 20 minutes.
There has been one fixture change to the published schedule. Our game away to Doncaster, due to take place on Saturday 11th February 2006, has been moved back to Sunday 12th February 2006 at Doncaster's request. Furthermore, we now understand that we will enter the Powergen Trophy competition on Saturday 5th November and not Saturday 15th October as previously advised.
We are also hoping that within the next week we will be able to publish a fixture list for the A team, with games commencing on Monday 5th September.
Saturday's game will be another interesting challenge against a current Guinness Premiership side. It will give the coaching staff a further measure of how both the team and individuals are progressing as we head towards our opening league match against the Pertemps Bees on Saturday 3rd September.
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.