Last Saturday's performance against Montauban was one of the best the team has put together this season. In difficult conditions the team played with skill and no little determination to achieve a thoroughly deserved 43 points to 8 win over the French team Montauban.
With the second leg to come this Saturday at The Stoop there is every likelihood that we will progress through to the Quarter Finals of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup where we will face either Brive or Castres, both teams that we have faced in recent years in the European competitions. Brive won the first leg of their game against Castres 30 -17, but the previous week Castres beat Brive in the French League 26 -13, so I think it is fair to say that the clash at Castres on Sunday afternoon will be very close.
Assuming that we progress to the Quarter Finals, the first leg against either Brive or Castes will be next Saturday 24 January KO 3.00pm. Dependent on whom we play the away leg will be either:
Castres - Saturday 31 January - KO 7pm
Brive - Sunday 1 February - KO 3pm
We will have to wait until Sunday afternoon to find out the answer.
There were no injury concerns after last weekend's game. Ugo Monye went over on his ankle but is fine, and George Harder had a slight chest infection but he will be starting this Saturday in the return leg.
Andy Dunne has recovered from his elbow injury he picked up against Newcastle and is on the bench this Saturday, while Mike Worsley makes his first start since injuring his back a few weeks ago. The two players still on the Physio couch are Simon Miall and Josh Taumalolo. Both are progressing well. Simon still expects to return to action at the beginning of March, while if all goes well with Josh over the next two to three weeks he should be back training with the squad sometime next month.
The second XV have ha a disappointing couple of weeks with the game against Bath been postponed twice, but they will be in action at The Stoop on Monday evening when they face London Irish in the Zurich A League. We are waiting for Bath to provide us with a date for the re-arrangement of the postponed game and will let you know just as soon as we do.
The support the team received in Montauban last weekend was fantastic. There must have been at least 200 NEC Harlequins supporters in the Stade de Sapiac and they far out shouted a very subdued home support.
Having been away from the Stoop for so long, I know that the entire squad are looking forward to the next ten days and the three home games we have, finishing with the Super 12 team Natal Sharks on Tuesday 27 January. This will be the third time we have played the Sharks, and hopefully the first time we have beaten them.
Look forward to seeing you all at The Stoop on Saturday (if we can just remember how to get there!)
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.