Rugby is all about the basics. If your lineout does not function, your scrum is under pressure and you are unable to win your re-starts then you will struggle against any opposition in the Zurich Premiership. That is what happened last Saturday at the Recreation Ground, Bath.
The modern game is about territory, and to gain territory you need first phase possession, which we failed to achieve. You can have the best backs in the world, but if your forwards can't secure the ball and get you over the gain line then you will struggle against the well organised defences that we face each week in the league.
Even more galling perhaps was the fact that, aside from Twickenham last year, I can't recall having seen so many Quins supporters at an away game in the 18 months that I have been involved with the club. In team meetings since Bath last weekend, time and time again the level of support has been mentioned and used as a positive in looking ahead to the game against Gloucester at the Stoop, kick-off 3.00pm, on 23rd February.
Again on the positive side, we looked after the ball (particularly the backs) very well and remained patient. This did not get us the win we so badly need, but it should give us confidence for the up and coming crucial Premiership games against Gloucester, Newcastle Falcons and Bristol.
We can't hide from the fact that the league table is not a pretty sight at the present time and because of this the game against Gloucester becomes all the more important.
This week, with international players away at the various Six Nations games, the emphasis in training has been on individual skills, as well as working on the lineouts and re-starts. Gloucester, as we all remember from last October, are a very strong side and if we are to get the much needed win against them we will have to match-up to the physical challenge of their forward pack.
Away from the training ground, our latest recruit Fijian international Norman Ligairi arrived at Heathrow at 6.25am on Tuesday morning and was immediately into training with the squad later that day. Norman is a very quiet lad who will take a while to settle in the UK but we hope he will have a happy and successful time here at NEC Harlequins.
Injury wise, things are looking much better. Keith Wood has been with the Ireland squad this week, but is now out of his plaster cast. We will have to wait and see as to when he will be ready to return to action. Dan Luger is much more confident about his hamstring having trained for a few days without reaction. Ben Gollings returned from his England 7's trip in good spirit and health, and Pat Sanderson is now taking part in full training. Tani Fuga is doing all the training except scrummaging and with over a week to go before the Gloucester game we would hope that he would be fully fit by then.
Of course we are concerned with regards to our league position but everyone, be it players, coaches and management, remain confident that we will produce the results to move us up the league towards the play-off places and the top eight.
In the meantime, I would like to wish all NEC Harlequins supporters a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you all at the Stoop next Saturday for the clash with Gloucester.
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.