The sun shone, the temperature was into the mid-twenties, last game of the regular season. Quins v Exeter. Exeter second in the table, hoping to cement their place in the play-offs with a home semi-final. Quins needing to win to secure a top six spot and a place in the European Championship next season. So all to play for.
I felt quite optimistic. Quins were unlucky not to beat Exeter in the away game earlier in the season. They scored 4 tries to 2, and lost on penalties and conversions by one point. Exeter didn’t lose as many players during the Six Nations, which helped them to consolidate their top four place, so I felt we were evenly matched. When the sun is out, and the pitch is firm, Quins usually shine.
Er, not yesterday. Exeter won 62-24. 10 tries to 3. It was only 10-17 at half time, but Quins just collapsed in the second half. Stopped defending with any intensity, and that means ruin. It may have been their worst home defeat ever. And in coach Conor O’Shea’s last ever league game.
We’ve got the the European Challenge Cup final on Friday in Lyon, France. Against Montpellier. The winner gets a place in the Championship next season. I suspect Quins’ minds were half on this game yesterday. Well, now, it’s even more important. I will be there!
Still, yesterday, as the sun was shining, I took my camera down to the ground. I missed the start because of bus problems, but got a good selection of photos. Here are a few. Rather biased – you’d think from this selection that we were on top. More than anything, they show that when you take a moment in time, rugby looks pretty chaotic. People are still fighting the old battles when ball has moved on, still collapsed in heaps, all over the place. But there is structure, and the teams that keep their structure win.
Which was not Quins yesterday!
So it was a pretty disastrous end to the season. But we we still have the European final in Lyon this Friday. Jon G and I will be there, and enjoying a weekend in Lyon which also takes in the Championship Final, Saracens v Racing 92 of Paris. Two England v France tussles. Should be awesome!