Quins went up to Leicester for their Premiership playoff semi final. The prize for coming third in the regular season. Lost 33-16. Season over.
It was a good game. Quins really took Leicester on in the first half. Good defensive linespeed (favourite commentators’ word these days, along with physicality), winning the rucks and the forward battle. But they just couldn’t finish off the chances that their possession gave them. Danny Care, who was really buzzing, nearly made it over, but a superb tackle by Tom Croft just forced him off the pitch.
Nonetheless, it was 9-6 to Quins when forty minutes was up. They won possession – Mike Brown with the ball. He could have just booted it out for half time. But, adventurous in spirit, he launched forward. He lost possession. Leicester took it up got it out to brick house winger, Goneva, who powered over for a try. Flood converted. Suddenly it was 13-9 to the Tigers. They went in ahead, instead of Quins. The dynamic of the game had changed in an instant. Quins would be playing catch up instead of consolidating.
The second half went Leicester’s way, big time. It didn’t help when Danny Care was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, which looked harsh. Ten points were shipped while Quins were down to 14. And soon after, the killer blow. Ben Botica, on for Tom Casson spilled a ball he was chasing down. Leicester got it out wide, where, flanker Tom Croft showed an amazing turn of speed to burn off all the Quins defenders. That made it 28-9. Game over.
So Leicester win their ninth successive play off semi. This is a club that has winning trophies in its DNA. Quins are getting there, but still have a bit to learn. But it has been a good season. Not quite as good as last season, when we won the whole thing, of course. But looking across the piece it’s impressive: third in the Premiership, Heineken Cup quarter finals, LV Cup winners and A league winners. The latter two are especially encouraging, because they were won with mostly young players who have come through from the Academy. The future is bright.
While I’m still pontificating on the rugby…. I’m not happy with the Lions selection for Australia and especially – of course – the omission of Captain Fantastic – for Quins and England – Chris Robshaw. Man of the match in so many of the Six Nations games, leader by example in the defeat of New Zealand in the Autumn of 2012. Deemed not as good as two Irish back rowers who helped Ireland to fifth place in the Six Nations. And a Welsh back row that is certainly pacey. But when did Wales last beat Australia? Oh well, the choices are always difficult. Fingers crossed that Robbo might get out there when the injuries kick in. Maybe Danny Care too. And Mike Brown? Would have been a great choice as a utility back. Sorry mate, not Welsh.
Anyway, pleased to see Quins’ young hooker, Rob Buchanan, making it into the England squad for the tour of Argentina, along with Mike Brown and Joe Marler. Robbo and Danny rested – I suspect because they are first in line for Lions replacement call ups. Luke Wallace is unlucky not to get the England call. He has been brilliant as the A Team and LV Cup captain, and really whenever he plays for the first team. Against Leicester today – with Robbo injured – he again did the business. First to the breakdown, then on the wing, then nicking the ball at a line out. The new Neil Back?
Yeah, the future at Quins is very bright indeed!