There are no excuses for our performance last Saturday at home to the Ospreys. On a technical level, we missed far too many first up tackles and we dropped far too many re-start receptions.
Even allowing for this, we were only six points behind after 60 minutes before a lack of discipline took away any chance we might have had of getting back into the game. To play 30 minutes of any match one man down is to say the least making things difficult; to try and do it in the Heineken Cup is as good as giving the game away.
We have no argument with the referee in respect to the three yellow cards issued; it is up to us to be disciplined on the pitch and you simply cannot expect to win games at the highest level if you are not. I can't offer any explanation as to how a team that has conceded on average 1.3 tries over the last nine weeks suddenly concedes six at home in front of its own supporters. John Kingston often says that defence "is an attitude of mind;" clearly it is an attitude that we need to regain very quickly.
This weekend we face Bath at the Recreation Ground in the sixth round of the Powergen Cup, which is an ideal opportunity to show that we can play against top quality opposition. Despite the injuries that Bath are facing at the moment, they were still able to defeat Benetton Treviso easily last weekend and they will be very strong opponents this Saturday. Under John Connolly they have developed a very strong set-piece, their lineout particularly with Steve Borthwick and Danny Grewcock is one of the best in the Zurich Premiership.
On the injury front, George Harder will miss the game this weekend with a shoulder problem and Ugo Monye will need another week to recover from the knee injury he picked up playing for England in the Dubai Sevens. In addition to this, James Hayter aggravated a groin injury during the Second XV victory over Gloucester on Monday evening in the Zurich A league and will take a week out to recover. However, Mike Worsley is fit to return to action.
The major news this week has been the injury to Geo Cronje, who has a bruised patella. When he arrived in November we were aware that he was carrying this injury and as with all new signings he underwent a medical during his first week at the training ground. Apart from various strength tests on the knee, this also involved Geo undergoing MRI scans and X-rays. Unfortunately, sometimes the extent of an injury does not show up on these scans and the initial diagnosis was that he would be available by the end of November.
Geo has worked hard on his re-hab programme and while some progress had been made, it was slow. Following a further meeting with our knee consultant this week and bearing in mind that Geo cannot play in our two Heineken Cup games in January, we have agreed to let him have a further month to finally allow the bruising to settle. I know that he is very frustrated, but hopefully the programme he is now following with our medical team will allow him to get back onto the training pitch very soon.
I said last week that we faced three vital games against Bath (Powergen Cup), and then Saracens and London Wasps in the Zurich Premiership. After last weeks showing, this weekend becomes even more important. We need to put in a good technical performance both in terms of looking to progress in the Powergen Cup and also in preparing for the games in the Premiership.
Confidence is an important part of all team sports, and confidence is gained from good performances and from winning. We put ourselves in a hole in the first five weeks of the season and then went a long way to climbing out of it with good performances over the next eight. This weekend we have a need to regain that level of performance and intensity we showed against some of the best teams in Europe during that eight week period.
Look forward to seeing you all at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.
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.