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Harlequins v Sale

By Whaley Shark
April 29 2007

Having just bought Casino Royale on DVD, the Whaley Shark fancies himself as James Bond and, indulging in a bit of bin-diving, discovered a top secret document in Dean Richards’ waste paper bin.

The Harlequins Try Scoring Manual

Lesson 1. The interception. Camp in the Sale half for the first ten minutes of the match. When Sale finally do make it into your half, read one of their passing moves and get your full back to pick off the final pass out to the winger. Make sure he is quick enough that the Sale right wing, Selorm Kuadey, can’t catch him, gallop 80 metres, touch the ball down.

Lesson 2. Classical back play. Run the ball for two or three phases to tangle up the Sale defence, spin the ball out to the right, bring the full back into the line to beat the defender and touch the ball down. For extra effect, do this just before half time.

Lesson 3. Keep it simple. This is good if you can do it just after half time, and really, really good if you have actually managed to complete Lesson 2 just before half time. Kick a penalty to touch, win your lineout and drive forwards. Maintain pressure on your opponents and win a scrum about 5 metres out. Ship the ball left to a big lad, running hard and straight at a not-very-switched-on defence. Touch the ball down.

Lesson 4. The nippy little fly-half. Even though you are quite deep in your own half, run the ball left, beating what now looks like a rather demoralised and sluggish defence. Make 60 metres and work a little grubber kick to touch. Win the ball back, make a break and, if held just short, feed the ball back quickly to your number 10. Dummy through the defence and touch the ball down.

Lesson 5. Turning the screw at the set piece. Put so much pressure on the Sale scrum that it all goes horribly wrong and you get the put-in for the second attempt. Do this about 20 metres out from the Sale line, move the ball and feed it to an 18 ½ stone prop forward on the charge. Touch the ball down.

Lesson 6 (a combination of Lessons 4 and 5). Field a clearance kick and run it back 80 metres. Apply pressure on the Sale defence. Win a penalty, take it quickly and charge for the line. From the pile-up, pop the ball to the same prop forward as in Lesson 5. Touch the ball down.

And that’s exactly what Harlequins did, with two penalties, a drop goal and five out of six conversion attempts, to give a 49-0 scoreline and the worst result for any side in this season’s GP.

Really, there’s little else to say about a long day out. We never really turned up- Quins got their noses in front with a penalty within three minutes, were 10-0 up inside quarter of an hour and we looked beaten from that point on. If you could ignore the colour of their shirts, it was a reminder of what “rugby to set your heart racing” can actually be like. The problems we have seen time and time again this season were still apparent and, indeed, with so many players rested, there seemed to be even less coherence than usual. Nothing was at stake except pride, so perhaps the players’ minds were too much on sun, sand and summer tours…..

In modern sport, “taking the positives” seems to be the name of the game, so what were they? The weather was good, the Eel Pie was a splendid pub, the Stoop’s a nice ground and the Quins fans had the good grace not to gloat. On the playing side, we are finally at the end of a tough season. Time for a break so we, and hopefully the players, can all return in September refreshed.

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