The bus journey home to London from Worcester must have been uncomfortable for Harlequins players following their public dressing down by coach Paul Gustard in the wake of their 29-14 Gallagher Premiership defeat at Sixways. Harlequins would have resumed the league post-lockdown with hopes of working their way into the end-of-season play-off picture, an ambition further stoked by their restart win over Sale at The Stoop.
However, brittleness on the road has since undermined them, Gustard’s team following up last Saturday’s 38-24 defeat at London rivals Saracens with a first-half no-show at Worcester where they conceded 26 unanswered points.
The ramifications of the defeats are obvious on the Premiership table – Harlequins are cut adrift in seventh place, their 32-point haul well short of Bath on 44 who currently occupy the fourth and final play-off spot.
Harlequins are back in action on Sunday when they host Northampton, another team whose post-lockdown results haven’t been impressive, and it will be interesting to see if the stinging words from Gustard in the wake of Worcester get the necessary reaction from his players.
Following the defeat the ex-England assistant let loose, saying: “I’m embarrassed. We never saw that coming. That’s not to say we are an arrogant team and we think that we are going to dominate teams physically.
?? @ChrisAshton1 gets off the mark for Quins.
— Harlequins ? (@Harlequins) August 27, 2020
“But the team that we picked, we didn’t think we picked people that were going to get steamrollered, but that’s exactly what happened. Our general play in the first half, we got bullied when we carried the ball.
“We lost 25 per cent of our lineout ball, and the story of the game was that we never got a foothold in it because we didn’t control any territory. If you can’t function in the set-piece in rugby, it is a very tough game to play.
“Everyone is hurting. That first 40 minutes is one of the lowest points of my coaching career. We never got to fire a shot, we were on the back foot all the time. It was a sobering 40 minutes for sure.”
'If you had said to me in that moment I would play until I was 35 I would have called you an idiot'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 26, 2020
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