Harlequins’ 41-14 win over Saracens at The Stoop on Sunday finished a gruelling week for the reigning champions as they were overwhelmed by their London rivals.
The home side blitzed to an early 19-0 lead and never let it go in a performance that saw them climb up to sixth in the table, only one point behind the top four. While this was a good display for Harlequins in terms of their season, it was a major statement from some of their players, particularly with the Six Nations starting this weekend.
Eddie Jones named his England squad last week, with some noticeable absences from Harlequins, chiefly No8 Alex Dombrandt. This omission was only magnified by the recent broken arm to Billy Vunipola, as well as rivals Sam Simmonds and Nathan Hughes also missing out.
@Alex_dombrandt was immense. I love watching him play!! Well done Quins ????
— kara holton (@HoltonKara) January 26, 2020
Best Quins performance I’ve seen for years. Best opening 20 mins of any game of the season. I know people are talking about Dombrandt, but Marcus Smith was exceptional. Set up nearly all the tries. Mesmerising to watch. England shirt for him soon, please! (Just out of season…)
— CakeDan (@CakeDan5) January 26, 2020
However, it took only a matter of minutes of the contest on Sunday for Dombrandt to showcase his talents, setting up Danny Care for the opening try of the match. His deft hands put the scrumhalf into the gap, then he showed his strength upon receiving the ball to deliver a one-handed offload to his teammate.
— Fred Blagden (@fredblagden) January 27, 2020
— Angus Rendall ? ????????? ? #FBPE #GTTO (@finknottle75) January 26, 2020
The No8’s brute force has never been questioned, but he showed his subtle hands at times throughout the match and made an almighty statement to the England head coach.
Jones has recently said that the 22-year-old does not have the workrate that he requires. Although he may not get through the number of carries Vunipola may in a match, he was no slouch against Saracens, and it is a case of the quality of each carry which marks him out.
As a @Saracens fan, all I can say is well played @Harlequins you dominated the game today. It also baffles me how @Alex_dombrandt isn't getting call up to the @EnglandRugby squad is beyond me, clearly the best number 8 in England at the money
— Rhys Shipley (@RhysShipley) January 26, 2020
Eddie Jones’ ego is why I think Dombrandt isn’t in the England squad. He sees everyone taking about him and doesn’t want to be forced into it. Dombrandt, IMO, is the best number 8 in the Prem. Crazy from Jones. https://t.co/yG86c3gxby
— Marcello Cossali-Francis (@Mcossalifrancis) January 26, 2020
The 35-man squad named last week will likely change through the course of the Six Nations, and Dombrandt must be one player hoping for a call-up over the next two months.
Elsewhere, his teammate Marcus Smith also sent a timely reminder to Jones after being overlooked in favour of Wasps’ 21-year-old flyhalf Jacob Umaga last week. His man of the match performance was an indication of why Jones has taken such a keen interest in the 20-year-old over the past couple of years.
What more do Alex Dombrandt & Marcus Smith have to do to get in Eddie Jones England squad?#HARvSAR
— Going for the ? (@Lpool_5843) January 26, 2020
— Hamish Percy (@hamish_percy) January 26, 2020
While there must have undoubtedly been an air of disappointment amongst some Harlequins players last week, and indeed amongst clubs across England, they have bounced back in perfect fashion.
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