Four seconds! That is how long was left when referee David Rose called a scrum for a 'knock-on' on Saturday afternoon at Franklins Gardens. From that set-piece, Northampton scored the winning try in a game that we had contrived to lose rather then they had won.
We played well on Saturday, but in the last 15 minutes we lost our composure. We kicked poorly, failed to get the ball off the pitch on too many occasions, missed too many first up tackles and did not look after the ball well enough. This, plus two 50/50 decisions going against us that resulted in Northampton kicking two penalties in the last 15 minutes cost us the additional three points, which would have meant we'd be sitting 'comfortably' in eighth place in the Zurich Premiership table.
Of course the final outcome was extremely disappointing; the mood in the changing room after the game and on the coach traveling back down the M1 was very sombre, but we have to remember that we played well and that we are playing well at the present time. We need to take that form into our next game against London Irish at the Stoop on Saturday week (9th April), kick-off 3.00pm.
With Leeds beating Leicester on Sunday, the bottom of the Zurich Premiership table has tightened up considerably with only six points separating the bottom five clubs. In eighth position, we are just five points behind Newcastle in seventh and a guaranteed place in the Wild Card play-offs.
You would not be human if you did not start playing the 'what if' game; will Leeds beat Gloucester at Kingsholm; how will Newcastle react to playing London Irish, Worcester and Northampton in the coming weeks, how will playing in European competition effect Northampton, Newcastle, Leeds and Worcester? However, unlike some of the other teams in the bottom half of the table, we are very much in control of our own destiny and we will continue to set ourselves the goal of finishing in seventh and a place in the play-offs.
We had two late withdrawals from the team last weekend. Jeremy Staunton had a quad strain that meant he was unable to kick at goal and Dafydd James's wife went into labour on Friday evening a month early. All went well and their son Aled was born fit and healthy on Saturday evening.
On Tuesday evening in Bath, our second team played their final Zurich A League game in atrocious conditions and beat the home side by 6-3. Will Greenwood made his comeback in this game following the shoulder operation he had back in December and came through the full 80 minutes without any problems. Indeed, he was back in training again yesterday afternoon, such is his enthusiasm to get back into action.
On the injury front, Andy Dunne has had a setback in recovering from the broken bone in his foot and is still a few weeks away from getting back to full fitness. Tani Fuga damaged the cartilage in his knee on Saturday and will be having an operation in the next few days to repair this and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Although there were one or two other knocks, everyone else is expected to be fit at this stage for the game with London Irish.
After eight games this season, a place in the Heineken Cup for next season was nothing more than a dream. With our hugely improved set of results over the last 11 games, notwithstanding the disappointment of Saturday's loss, it is a possibility very much within our grasp.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.