After our first six Zurich Premiership matches we have two wins (over London Irish and Newcastle Falcons) and four defeats. Not a great start by any stretch of the imagination, but not a disaster either.
As we go into the first round of European games, we are in eighth position in the league table, with some very important matches to come. Away to Bristol, home to Bath and away to Saracens are our next three Premiership fixtures. If we can continue with our recent improved performances in these fixtures, we should continue to climb quietly up the table.
This Saturday we are away Caerphilly at Virginia Park, kick-off 2.30pm, in the first round of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup. We should not be mistaken by Caerphilly's poor results in the Celtic League. Although they have not won any of their six games, they have run a number of teams very close - losing to Swansea by only three points, and scoring a number of tries against Edinburgh, who are top of their group and strong favourites to reach the quarterfinals in the Heineken Cup this season.
Saturday afternoon will be a real scrap, and we must be prepared to fight it out with the home team if we are to win and continue our improved form of recent weeks. Coached by former Welsh fly half Mark Ring, Caerphilly will be out to put one over on the 'Quins team from London'.
Last Monday evening, our second XV beat Saracens 21-11 in what was a very encouraging performance. Our starting XV had 13 players aged 22 or under, up against experienced campaigners such as Craig Quinnell, Abdel Benazzi and Nicky Little. It was a performance full of character and determination and bode well for the future of NEC Harlequins.
The team for this Saturday will show a few changes from the one that beat Newcastle last weekend. Bruce Starr will get a well deserved chance to start at loose head with Jason Leonard being rested after a tremendous display against Newcastle. Likewise, Pablo Cardinali will make his first start at tight head since his arrival from Argentina. Alex Codling will again be rested so that we can sort out the hamstring injury that has hampered him this season. Jim Evans will start in the second row.
In the backs, David Slemen has not recovered from the foot injury that forced him to leave the field last weekend and therefore Ben Gollings will start at ten, with Rob Jewell replacing Ben on the wing. One or two of our younger players such as Ugo Monye and Andrew Reay may have been involved this weekend, but they cannot be selected because of the player registration criteria for this competition.
Of the long-term injured, Paul Burke and Chris Bell are continuing to progress well and will both be back action within the next four weeks. Dan Luger is now taking some part in all our rugby sessions and everyone has been greatly encouraged by his progress. And it was good to see Roy Winters without his cast on, and we can look forward to seeing Roy in action in the New Year.
Finally, this morning I received a message from our former captain David Wilson. He has been keeping in touch with the club and having read reports of the game against Newcastle and the size of the crowd - a virtual full house - he asked me to tell everyone how much he misses Quins and the atmosphere at the Stoop.
To those of you travelling to Caerphilly, I look forward to seeing you there. Otherwise, we will hope to see you all at the Stoop for the return leg against Caerphilly on the 19th October.
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.