We did not achieve the result we all hoped for on Sunday (19th September) at Newcastle but the performance of the team was much improved compared to the first two weeks of the season and perhaps with a modicum of good fortune going our way, we could have come away with all four points.
Despite the public 'sounding off' from the Newcastle coaching team, I suspect if anyone came out on the wrong side of the referee it was us. A penalty count of 18 to eight against the team with the lowest average penalty count over the last two seasons suggests that something was not quite right.
Yes, we contest the ball on the floor vigorously, but we have been doing that for over 18 months and it has not affected our penalty count previously. Still, being 'cynical' as apparently we are these days, we will look at our performance and the referee's interpretation of it so that it does not happen again in the future.
One thing that did come out of Sunday, aside from the team's performance, is I believe that it is time for the game of rugby to stop coaches standing on the touchline swearing at and berating officials during the game. It does the game of rugby no good whatsoever, and in other professional sports such as football the coach would be 'sent off' and made to watch the rest of the game from the grandstand.
This Saturday (25th September) we face Bath at the Stoop in what is the 1,000th Premiership game. Like ourselves, Bath have not got off to the best of starts in the Zurich Premiership, losing at home to Newcastle and away to Northampton before picking up a closely fought win against Worcester last weekend. We know that Bath are a good side and we have had some tremendous tussles with them in recent seasons including our game against them back in May, which we won in the fourth minute of injury time.
In terms of team selection this week, we are waiting to see if Will Greenwood will be fit. If so he will replace Andy Reay, otherwise the starting XV will be unchanged from last weekend. On the bench, both Dafydd James and Maurice Fitz Gerald will make their first appearances for NEC Harlequins in the Zurich Premiership, having recovered from injury. On the downside, Mike Worsley drops off the bench due to a minor back strain.
Our new scrum half Matt Henjak should be arriving in the UK next Wednesday now that his club side Canberra have been eliminated from the play-offs in their domestic competition in New South Wales.
Monday evening (27th September) will see our second encounter with Bath within two days, when the Second XV take them on at the Stoop in the third round of Zurich A matches, kick-off 7.30pm. This will be another opportunity for a number of our academy players to perform in a competitive environment and should be another exciting game of rugby.
I can well understand your disappointment with our record of played three, lost three, and clearly this makes Saturday's encounter with Bath a very important game for everyone involved with NEC Harlequins. Supporters have every right to criticise the team when they have not played well, and I would fully expect you to do so, although preferably in a constructive manner. However, at five minutes passed three on Saturday afternoon I hope that we will all be pulling for one thing - a Quins win.
I look forward to hearing the Quins supporters on Saturday afternoon for the entire eighty five minutes.
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.