On behalf of all the players, management and office staff at NEC Harlequins, I would like to express my sincere condolences to Will Greenwood and his partner Caroline following the death of their newly born son Frederick. It is impossible for us to understand the trauma that they must have gone through in the last week, but we hope that in time they will come to cherish the brief time that they had with Frederick.
It was a huge relief for us all when the final whistle blew last Saturday afternoon, having recorded our first victory of the season in beating London Irish 29-19. There were elements of our performance which improved dramatically on the week before, particularly our ball retention and lineouts. The back row of Ace Tiatia, Tony Diprose and Pat Sanderson were outstanding, constantly turning over London Irish ball, and defending very aggressively.
However, that one win does not hide the fact that we have still lost three games this season, and most importantly two of them at the Stoop to Gloucester and Leeds Tykes. What it has done is shown us what we can achieve, and we must now go on and improve upon that level of performance week by week. There were still areas of our game that we need to work on, as it was far from a perfect performance, but it is a lot easier to do so having won.
The bad news this week is on the injury front. Playing Sale Sharks tomorrow evening we will be without Paul Burke, who tore a hamstring last week and could be out for up to eight weeks. Chris Bell is still two to three weeks from returning to action, and Alex Codling continues to struggle with a weak hamstring which forced him to miss the Leicester Tigers and Leeds matches.
Alex will miss the Sale game, but should be back to play Newcastle next weekend. This is an injury that just needs time to allow the fitness team to strengthen the muscles around his hamstring, and hopefully by getting him through to the Newcastle game there will then be time for this to take place.
Last night, a very young second XV took on the Army at Aldershot and secured a 37 -24 points win over a strong Army team. Tries by Ugo Monye, and a first appearance of the season by Nick Duncombe were two of the obvious positives to come out of a good performance from a very young side.
Later today we will be travelling to Manchester to face the Sharks tomorrow evening in what will be a difficult challenge at Heywood Road. The Sharks are a very strong team and in Jason Robinson and Charlie Hodgson, they have two of the finest players in the country at the moment. However, we won there last season and I know that the coaching staff strongly believes that we can put in a good performance on Friday evening to follow up on last weekends win.
As ever, your support last Saturday was greatly appreciated by everyone involved with the team, and we are all looking forward to seeing you back at the Stoop next Saturday for the Newcastle game.
Now we are off to Manchester - where we will look to build on our performance of last Saturday and the win over Irish.
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.