Saturday 8th September saw Harlequin Amateurs entertain Egham Hollowegians in their final pre season friendly before the league fixtures begin next week. Perfect conditions welcomed both teams, and after a focused warm up, Quins were ready to get the game underway.
The opening exchanges were all about feeling out the opposition as both teams tested each others defence with hard running and good lines. It was Quins who opened the scoring on 14 minutes when George Jaques ran in from range for his 5th try in three games. The conversion took the score to 7-0.
It didn't take long for Egham to reply however, and after sustained pressure they managed a try of their own in the 23rd minute. The Egham scrum-half duly converted to level the scores at 7-7.
Despite the score remaining level until the half, Egham persisted to test the Quins defence and if it weren't for a number of great tackles from full back Tom webb, the visitors could have easily gone into the break two or three tries to the good.
The Quins defence remained strong as the second half opened, and both teams enjoyed good spells of possession. With the game in the balance, either team could have gone ahead. Quins came close a number of times after great breaks from Shamim Eceolaza, Aaron Addis and James Summersett all took Quins close to the try line. Alas, the elusive try didn't come as stray final passes meant our chances went begging. It was Egham that scored next though, and an unconverted try gave them a 7-12 lead in the 50th minute.
With the changes being made by the coaches, Mike Lovelock came into midfield and it didn't take too long to pay off. Quins found themselves with the lions share of possession for the 15 minutes following the Egham try, and after powering through a number of phases with strong carries from Dave Love and Seamus Walsh in the pack, Lovelock was released by George to score in the corner. George missed a difficult conversion, meaning the scores were level again at 12 a piece.
Just as Quins felt the game was their for the taking, Egham felt otherwise and started to bring their big ball carriers and strong running backs into the game. In the twenty minutes that followed the Quins score, Egham hammered away at the Quins defence and scored two converted tries. It could have, and probably should have been at least one more if it weren't for an incredible cover tackle from new signing Kaino Frazer that brought the Egham attacker down just before the try line, long after the majority of the Quins defenders had given up hope of preventing the score. 12-28 with ten minutes to go.
Rather than roll over, Quins continued to put the pressure on and with five minutes remaining found themselves in the Egham "22". Rather than kick to safety, Egham decided to attempt to run the ball from deep. Aaron Addis showed great reading of the game to intercept the pass, and rather than release the Egham winger as the pass intended, it allowed Aaron to run in under the sticks to score. George converted to make the score 19-28.
In the final few minutes of the game, Egham were to have the last say. An accumulating penalty count allowed the Hollowegians to pin Quins back in their own half and with the final play managed a final well worked unconverted try.
Final score 19-33.
Despite the final result, there were plenty of positives to take away for the home side. While still not quite there, the penalty count was closer to acceptable. And when we managed to hold on to the ball we looked very dangerous with some particularly stand out performances from Sham and James Summersett in attack, and Tom Webb in defence. Rather than having a DoD, it was decided that we would have a forward and a back MoM award. The forward award went to Dave Love for his continuous work rate and square inches covered. Our very own Chris Robshaw. The back award went to Sham for his footwork, skill with ball in hand and being a constant threat. Fear not, normal DoD service will resume next week.
The league kicks off next weekend with the visit of Hanwell RFC to Broom Road. Having never met each other before, it will certainly be an interesting game. We look forward to seeing as many supporters as possible on the sideline to cheer on the lads.