The conditions at training last Thursday lent themselves to practicing close quarter exchanges and this proved to be good preparation for this game -the Nottingham Second XV clearly had the intention of talking the game to us up front from the off. Despite losing loose head prop Gareth Rise through injury in the first few minutes, the young Quins pack, with replacement Muggridge , and captain Hart to the fore, got stuck in and defended with a passion.
The first half saw the half backs James and Williams kick intelligently and move the ball wide to stretch the Nottingham backs. Tries from Crowley, Chinudu and Lewis followed and a big score was looking ominous. After the interval, centre Brown added a further 5 points and the Quins team appeared to relax.. To Nottingham's credit, a gutsy forward effort narrowed the margin and, with the help of the referee, they engineered opportunities to draw level from a 19-24 deficit. After an earlier pushover try, the writing was on the wall for the Quins pack when a 5m scrum was awarded with 5 minutes to go. The front row of Muggridge, Wood and de Jaeger lifted their game a drove the heavier Nottingham pack backwards away from the line. This, and a try saving tackle by Gavin Hart in the closing minutes were match saving deeds.
This side was a very young U21s team, with seven of the players still U19. The fact that they are learning to "win ugly" as well as play skilfully is a real bonus and will stand them in good stead for the harder games on the horizon against other Premiership outfits.
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.