After last Saturday's 41 - 8 win over Brive in the first leg of the Quarter Final of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup, we go into this Sunday's second leg full of confidence, although fully aware that we will face a very determined Brive team in the Parc Municipal des Sports on Sunday afternoon.
Although we won with a very decisive score line Brive showed plenty of skill and determination. We would only put ourselves under pressure if we were to go into the game with the wrong attitude. As I said last week it is only half-time and we have to ensure that we finish the job in Brive on Sunday.
On Tuesday evening we were extremely disappointed to go down to the Natal Sharks by two points. Having been blown away in the first twenty minutes we got back into the game and took the lead with just a few minutes to go. It has to be said that there were a number of crucial officiating decisions that went against us, notwithstanding Rob Jewell's try, particularly two forward passes, one which resulted in a scrum to Natal rather than seven points to us, and one which resulted in seven points to Natal. Still it was an excellent evening's entertainment which I am sure was enjoyed by everyone that was there.
On the injury front Ugo Monye is struggling with an ankle injury which means he will miss Sunday's game against Brive as well as the England sevens competitions in Wellington and Los Angeles. Josh Taumalolo should take some part in the second XV game against Saracens on Monday evening and Simon Miall is expected to return to action sometime during February when we have a series of 2nd XV fixtures.
Will Greenwood will not be travelling to Brive this weekend. Although fit to play it was decided for family reasons to allow Will to stay at home with his wife Caro who was having the stitches removed following the operation she had back in June.
As with the rest of the country our training has been somewhat disrupted by the weather with frozen pitches, but we have been able to do some practice indoors, which I suspect the players enjoyed rather more that going out onto the icy, snow covered pitches here at Aldershot.
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.