This Saturday we face Caerphilly in the second leg of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup first round fixture, into which we take a 53-point advantage, having beaten the Welsh side 73-20 at Virginia Park last weekend.
The most vivid memory of Saturday afternoon will not be any of the 11 tries that the team scored, but the size of the NEC Harlequins support. I would estimate that some 60% of the crowd were wearing Quins Colours and as usual the noise was deafening as they cheered the team throughout the entire 80 minutes. On behalf of all the players and Management, I would like to thank everyone who took the effort to travel to Caerphilly and I know many of you enjoyed the delights of Cardiff's night life as well!
With such a lead from the first leg it would be fair to say we expect to proceed into the second round of the competition, which is likely to be against Stade Francais. At the moment we believe that the draw for the home and away legs will take place in Paris next Tuesday, although we are still waiting for confirmation of this.
I know that Mark Ring, the Caerphilly coach, was desperately disappointed in his teams performance in the home leg last weekend, and I am sure that they will come up to the Stoop this Saturday determined to show a better account of themselves, and indeed to boost their own confidence ahead of their Celtic League games against Munster and Newport.
The down side to last Saturday was the knee injury suffered by Pat Sanderson. Pat has torn the medial ligaments in his right knee, but fortunately it is not the same injury which he suffered against London Irish in the Powergen Cup back in March. After the initial consultations and scans, it is likely that Pat will be out of action for approximately three months. It is desperately disappointing for Pat, as he has been playing so well over recent weeks, but we wish him a speedy recovery.
While on the injury front, Paul Burke and Chris Bell continue to progress well and should be back in action next month. David Slemen is due to start this weekend, but will face a late fitness test to see if he has recovered from his foot injury. If not, then Seb Fitzgerald will make his first start for the 1st XV. Keith Wood is seeing a consultant this afternoon with regards to the disc problem he suffered in Georgia, but there is no firm date at the moment as to when we can expect to see him back in action. Finally, Dan Luger continues to take part in full training and so far his knee has not reacted to the increased workload.
In South Africa, Andre Vos is expected to lead the Lions in the semi-finals of the Currie Cup against the Cheetahs this weekend, and we wish him all the very best in this game, and hopefully in next weekends final as well. Andre is due to arrive in the UK after the Currie Cup Final, which takes place on 26th October.
After Caerphilly, we return to Zurich Premiership action, firstly away to Bristol (27th October 2002) and then at home to Bath on Saturday 2nd November. This game is likely to be a sell-out, so if you do not have your ticket already I would suggest you contact the ticket office as soon as possible.
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.