The LV= Cup is an Anglo-Welsh competition which, like the Premiership ‘A’ League, gives non-first team starters, academy players and those coming back from injury the opportunity for some game time. Last Sunday Quins lost to their London nemesis Saracens in the Cup, narrowly enough to dispel some of the hurt and humiliation that resulted from their earlier 0-39 Premiership pasting, which was plenty.
Second game of the tournament, last night travelling from Wales came the Newport Gwent Dragons. They’re not the greatest club team in the British Isles but at Number 8 they did at least boast former international Andy Powell, he of the famous drunken expedition on a golf buggy to a motorway service station for some item of merchandise or another.
As usual, Quins’ team had a heavy accent upon youth. Seven of the starting pack of forwards were 23 or younger and 18 of the match day 23 were English-qualified. In prospect the traditional comment on the Quins fans’ website chat-room discussion as the teams are announced (“We should have enough to see that lot off …”) seemed to apply.
My regular readers may therefore have some sympathy with my predicament, if not the team, when the half-time score stood at 8-21 to the Newport Gwent Dragons. Especially as Quins had taken the lead when, courtesy of a long miss-pass from our impressive temporary injury-full-in import fly half from South Africa, Tim Swiel, had put flying winger Ollie Lindsay-Hague over in the corner for an unconverted try after just 4 minutes.
The crowd was only just over the 7,000 mark – in rugby terms that’s not a bad LV= Cup attendance on a surprisingly cold evening in south west London when the Friday commuting exodus and family commitments combine to dissuade many supporters with domestic issues (especially when the autumn internationals season is upon us and your priorities must be collecting brownie points in order to be allowed to sit for hours in front of the television, or indeed not expending those you’ve spent many hours amassing on lesser, relatively unimportant, outings).
I have to be honest. During the halftime interval, the thought of missing the second half … and instead trudging to my car and then going home to the warmth of an open fire as the clock ticked past 9.00pm … did cross my mind.
Apart from the shame of doing it, the other motivation for staying put was my expectation that – however uninspired and mediocre Quins had been in the first half – they couldn’t possibly be as bad again in the second … could they?
We soon found out. I’ve no idea whether a bollocking from the coaching staff was applied during the interval or not, but things were tightened up and there was now a far greater sense of urgency amongst the Quins boys. On my watch, at 17 minutes into the second half, Quins were leading 24-21. By the end (31-21) we had scored three tries and should have had a bonus point for a fourth.
For me, the younger Chisholm – Number 8 James – stood out and not just because he scored two tries. Around the park he was always conspicuous in the loose.
Sadly our problems with dynamism and penetration in midfield persist. Matt Hopper and Jordan Turner-Hall failed to impress once more, with the latter seemingly incapable of holding onto the ball in contact.
Overall, this was an evening to forget. Swiel looks a class act, but I’d like to see him kick with less height and more distance and make a break on his own now and again – he’s got the gas and dancing feet to do serious damage when he gains the confidence.