Belfast Telegraph

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Humbled Quins are desperate to sow the seeds of recovery


By Michael Sadlier

With the temperature plummeting at the Twickenham Stoop in the aftermath of last Sunday's snow-spattered game, the deteriorating conditions pretty much matched the general mood around the Harlequins camp.

They'd badly underperformed and reaped the consequences as both the weather and Ulster had done a job on them.

It hadn't helped that they had lost Chris Robshaw early on, and then Danny Care when he took a rather unorthodox bang to the head, and he, too, was gone.

It wasn't great either that Mike Brown's most memorable moment was when he was nutmegged by a bouncing ball.

Their scrum - including Lions Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler - had been expected to attack Ulster's front row but that hadn't really materialised either, while two attacking lineout mauls in either half and close to the Ulster line had disintegrated into shambles.

While Director of Rugby John Kingston went through the uncomfortable post-match scenarios, along with his admission that their Champions Cup adventure was at an end, the squad could do little to avoid the unpalatable truth that they had been pretty much done over.

Even Sinckler's try had taken such an enormous amount of work to get the prop over the line that they knew, even then, that Ulster had the key psychological edge.

And yet Quins had nearly as much possession, 49% against Ulster's 51%, and had more territory, 52% pitted against 48% for the visitors, than Les Kiss' side.

They lost because they couldn't accurately use the ball and found Ulster's defence unforgiving.

So, now they come seeking a performance to bring back to the Aviva Premiership and do so with six changes from Sunday's side.

Losing Robshaw, Care and Marler to various issues is less than ideal, but then with nothing to play for from the five-day turnaround, they may not have featured anyway even if fit.

Brown, Tim Visser and Mat Luamanu are benched, though Jamie Roberts, Charlie Walker and Marcus Smith go again with four fifths of the less than impressive front five also getting a shot at bouncing back, however hooker Dave Ward will be reprising his former position at seven.

The pressure is well and truly off, but Harlequins know they must put the heat back in their game.

Belfast Telegraph

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