Saturday, January 06, 2007

Quins almost throw it away (Harlequins 9 Bath 3)

Despite dominating the forward battle throughout the entire game Quins almost managed to conspired to lose in a rain drenched encounter. In the end they needed a pair of magnificent lineout steals in their own 22 by man of the match Olly Kohn to preserve their lead.

The game started in heavy rain and by the end of the 1st quarter it had got so hard I was starting to struggle to see the other side of the pitch. Luckily it eased up in the 2nd half or else I think Simon Keogh (all 5' 9'' of him) might have had to start treading water. As it was the game was littered with knocks and slips, with mauling and driving around the fringe being the only way either team could advance with ball in hand.

As always there was a number of positives and negatives. On the plus side:

1) We won a close one, after choking against Sarries and Irish it was good to see us close out a game, even if there were some hairy moments.

2) The scrum, apart from one scrum lost against the head (at the far corner of the ground so I don't know what why) we had their scrum in trouble all game. Given that this has traditionally been a weakness the performance in the last couple of games when we have had the upper hand has been heartening. I'm not sure whether it is due to opposition weakness, the new scrum laws that allegedly tilt the balance back towards the technically able rather than the big lump or the introduction of Aston Croal.

3) The lineout. After a couple of dodgy ones to start we seemed to gain some more control, thanks in part to a couple of short ones to Croal. Bath never got theirs going, highlighted by the two late Quins steals.

Negatives:

1) Kicking from hand. I will give AJ the benefit of the doubt on the place kicking giving the conditions under foot, but some of our kicking from hand today was woeful. Two or three box kicks from Danny Care went straight out, Mike Brown missed the touchline on a penalty by about 15 yards and how many times did AJs little grubbers through bounce off a defender.

2) Scrum Half. Bad box kicking aside Danny did not have a good game. His passing was erratic, regularly stopping the three quarters in their tracks. He was hesitant around the breakdown a couple of times, including letting Bath steal the ball three yards from their own line. (Although to be fair the guy came from an offside position). That having been said given the conditions I'm probably being a bit harsh on him.

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