Boy, I did not see that one coming.
Harlequins today showed Tony Smith the true extent of the task ahead of him by destroying Warrington Wolves 60-8. It started off fairly competitively, with Luke Dorn and Danny Ward tries being cancelled out by Vinnie Anderson and Paul Rauhihi tries for Wire. Then it suddenly changed as Quins scored eight unanswered tries. Danny Orr rubbed salt into the Wolves’ wounds by kicking a perfect 10 from 10 conversions. All in all, it was a very impressive showing from Quins and a very worrying display if you’re a Wolves fan.
The most obvious deficiency at Warrington is their defence, and they let in some extremely soft tries (for Luke Dorn’s opening try I don’t actually think he was touched by an attempted tackle). Particularly they seemed vulnerable out wide and to a clever Quins kicking game. However, they’re also inflicting a lot of problems upon themselves with woeful ball control, and if they keep dropping the ball like that then they’re not going to win many games. WHat was worse though was that they seemed to lack a cutting edge which I found surprising as that’s basically what’s carried Wire over the last few seasons. Lee Briers, Michael Monaghan and Jon Clarke were basically bystanders for the whole game, and after their early tries they didn’t even come close to looking threatening. Stuttering attack and flawed defence does not a good team make, and Smith really needs to get his thinking cap on.
But of course to dwell on this is to ignore the fact that Harlequins are most definitely a good team, and a side not to be taken lightly. Will Sharp has been a revelation so far this season, and I think he’ll be catching the eye of Smith for an international space. Danny Orr could also be coming into the international mix if he keeps up his form. Luke Dorn must wonder why he ever left London, as he scores tries for fun in the Capital. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook is increasing his stature in the eyes of Quins’ supporters from ‘cult hero’ to ‘full-on deity’. Most importantly of all, they are extremely well coached and they gel into an ultra-efficient unit that’s also able to dish out the razzmatazz as well. I don’t think they’re title challengers yet, but they’re certainly in the playoff mix and if they keep this up, then who knows?
There was also probably the best sequence of play that I’ve seen in my all-too-few visits to the Quins / Broncos, as Tony Clubb (whom, I think I’ve mentioned this before, was looking fairly mediocre on loan at Skolars just over a year ago) unleashed a shoulder-charge from the depths of Hades that completely rocked a Warrington player, and as this was the final tackle the WOlves put in a pretty mediocre chip towards the in-goal… which Chris Melling proceeded to return to the opposite side of the pitch for the most entertaining try of the day. Warrington have to go back to the drawing board, because if it’s reached a stage where the Quins fans can basically take the piss, then there’s not much lower you can go.