I’m beginning to get fed up with my version of every true fan’s eternal quest to keep his pecker up and see the positive side of things when they just aren’t going in his team’s direction.
There’s no two ways about it – Quins are playing rubbish this term and there’s no end to it in sight. This has now gone way beyond a simple run of indifferent form, it’s become a full-on crisis and I am only too happy to point the finger of blame firmly in the direction of Conor O’Shea and the coaching staff.
There’s no mileage to be had from relying upon the Irish ‘directions to Dublin’ excuse [cue the old joke about stopping an Irish country bumpkin to ask the way to Dublin, who replies “Well, I wouldn’t start from here …”] because Conor didn’t inherit the current squad from Deano, he has built it over the past five seasons, presumably to a template he designed himself.
The truth is that we don’t have enough of a starting XV at Premiership level anymore, let alone the strength in depth required to mount a serious title campaign over the full nine months that it takes.
Earlier this season I was blaming our current travails upon ominous seeds sown last year, when we played indifferently from October to February … then had a short-term revival for six weeks in which we won five matches on the trot to pip Bath to the fourth play-off spot … and duly lost the semi-final partly due to exhaustion.
At the beginning of October I bemoaned the fact that we seemed to have begun the new season by reverting to our dismal October-to-February form of 2013/2014. That much was true. And we haven’t moved on since then. Well, not much. Our defence has improved – even the stats prove that – and the pack had gathered some grunt from somewhere in both the maul and rumbles at close quarters towards the opposition line. But our midfield threequarters are pitifully weak and lacking in penetration and – in general – we’re playing like a bunch of herberts … devoid of joie de vivre, dynamism or – most tellingly for a team that thrives on playing open rugby – any sense of confidence.
It’s all flat, flat, flat.
Quins currently feel like a team that are playing by numbers, just going through the motions and keeping their fingers crossed that something will turn up sometime.
Well it hasn’t so far.
The Exeter away game … Sale at home … and then last night away at Bath in the rain. The performances are getting worse notch by notch.
I had the misfortune to watch last night’s debacle on television in my front room. It was embarrassing. The scoreline [a 25-6 victory for Bath] did not flatter the home team, whose temporary fly half Ollie Devoto missed four nail-able pots at goals.
A stout rear-guard defensive effort was the only straw to be clutched at. The Bath pack, eagerly assisted by referee Wayne Barnes, stomped all over ours. At one stage midway through the second half we had no fewer than three … THREE … forwards in the sin bin at the same time and, devoid of anyone qualified to come on and play at prop, had to rely upon the humiliation of forcing Barnes to order uncontested scrums.
Talk about one-way traffic!
On this showing, Quins fans are in for a desperate and frustrating last two-thirds of the season.
Results are everything, of course. Bugger the Quins’ traditional fancy-dan style of play, I don’t care if we play ten-man rugby, metaphorically stick it up the jumper and bore oppositions and spectators to death with turgid 6-3 outcomes. We just need a run of three victories to get momentum moving in the right direction.
Well, okay – let’s be honest – just one (any) win would do wonders right now …
Watching last night’s game from my sofa was an exercise in purgatory that I don’t wish to repeat in a hurry. You can only take so much. At this rate Quins will be a bottom four club this season, just three years after lifting the Premiership trophy.