Yet again we came out on the wrong side of a close game last weekend. However, unlike against Northampton (26th March), where we deserved more than a losing bonus point, last Saturday (9th April) at home to London Irish, the losing bonus point was exactly that - a bonus.
Technically, there were a number of things that we got wrong. In the first half we played too much rugby in our own half and turned the ball over far too often. This meant we gave Irish opportunities to counter attack and build pressure in our half of the field. The wind was a factor in us not clearing our lines as well as we should have done, but far too often we dropped the ball in contact.
In the second half we began to play a bit more rugby in the right areas and got ourselves back into the game. However, we gave away two soft tries as a result of turning the ball over and a missed tackle, which gave us a mountain to climb. Having gone 25-20 behind, we then lost our composure in the last ten minutes of the game.
As you all know, this leaves us in tenth place in the table, just two points ahead of both Leeds Tykes and Northampton Saints. Leeds are away to Bath on the last day of the season, while Northampton are at home to Newcastle tomorrow night before traveling to Worcester on 30th April.
Everyone at the training ground understands the frustrations that you are venting, either through emails or on the message boards. When I have spoken in recent weeks about the possibility of qualifying for next seasons Heineken Cup, they have not been hollow words; it was a genuine target. And before I get slated for stating this, can I suggest you look at the facts; even now we are only five points behind Newcastle, who are in seventh position, and nine points behind Gloucester in sixth place.
Of course we have let ourselves and our supporters down by losing far more games than we should have done. Nobody is offering any excuses, our results this season are reflected in our league position; but it could and should have been so different. The reality of our position is that we have two games to ensure we avoid finishing bottom of the Zurich Premiership. This stark reality is still also facing Leeds, Northampton, Worcester and London Irish.
This is not a time for mad panic, but a time for being positive, working hard, for preparing well and getting behind everyone to encourage them. As I said earlier, I can understand some of the criticism being aimed at the players and management team; you care about NEC Harlequins as much as we do. You are disappointed at the position the club is in; so are we. However, we have to deal with the present and the two games that remain this season - there is no point in looking back on 'if only.'
I appreciate that for many of you it will be difficult to get to Leeds on a Tuesday night (26th April) to support the team. Those of you who can, your support will be greatly appreciated and I am sure the rest of you will be supporting the team in everyway that is possible.
Where we finish in the Zurich Premiership table is still very much in our own hands - the preparation has already started.
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.