Last Saturday (23rd October) we came as close as any team has done for a long while to defeating Munster at Thomond Park, and there is no doubt that if we had even a modicum of good fortune at various times then we may well have won the game. However, the bottom line was a scoreline of Munster 15-9 NEC Harlequins.
We can go on and on about the Ace Tiatia sin binning or the knock-on at the end of the game, but even if we win the argument it will not change the result. What it did show is that we are a good team with good players and that we can compete with the very best sides in Europe.
I thought the pack were outstanding last Saturday. They stood up and competed with one of the most formidable forward packs in Europe. In the lineout and competing for the ball in the tackle area they came out on top.
There was also a fine performance from Steve So'oialo. In difficult conditions and with opposition players coming at the ball from offside positions, he gave the backline a good service and the team in general plenty of 'go forward'. He was caught once when a Munster hand slapped the ball from his grasp while in an offside position!
It is always difficult for the scrum half if there appears to be no offside line, hence the need to step away from the ruck before releasing the ball. In addition, both Steve's box kicking and defensive organisational work were first class.
The competition will not get any easier as this weekend we face Castres Olympique at the Stoop in our second Heineken Cup group four encounter. Castres have been going well in the French league and are a powerful team. They have good ball carriers in the pack and in fly half Yannick Delaigue a tremendous play maker.
Following the injury to Maurice Fitz Gerald last weekend there will be one enforced change to the team in the front row, probably with just one further change in the backline to last weeks team. Players unavailable due to injury apart from Maurice include Jon Dawson, James Hayter, Jim Evans and Ugo Monye.
Over the last three weeks the team have produced good performances against Gloucester, Leicester and Munster, but it is important that we build on this improvement and a win on Saturday would be a good way of doing so.
Finally, a huge thank you to all our supporters who travelled to Limerick last weekend and made themselves heard at Thomond Park. It was a tremendous effort and one that I hope a much larger contingent of Quins supporters can repeat this Saturday afternoon at the Stoop.
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.